Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Treat or eat: Food insecurity linked to cost-related medication underuse in chronically ill Americans

Date:
March 21, 2014
Source:
Elsevier Health Sciences
Summary:
Chronically ill adults who reported food insecurity in their household (not having consistent access to food due to lack of financial stability) were significantly more likely to report cost-related medication underuse, according to a new study. The term cost-related medication underuse refers to taking less medication than prescribed or not taking it at all due to financial concerns.

Chronically ill adults who reported food insecurity in their household (not having consistent access to food due to lack of financial stability) were significantly more likely to report cost-related medication underuse, according to a new study in The American Journal of Medicine,. The term cost-related medication underuse refers to taking less medication than prescribed, or not taking it at all due to financial concerns.

Despite renewed optimism about the economy, many people in the United States continue to feel financial hardships. In 2012, 1 in 5 Americans reported having trouble meeting basic needs, and on top of that, 1 in 6 people reported having no form of health insurance. For the chronically ill, the difference between paying rent or putting food on the table may be the cost of their medication.

In order to explore the possible link between food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse, investigators looked at 9696 adult participants in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) who had reported chronic illness. They found that 23.4% of the chronically ill study participants reported cost-related medication underuse, while 18.8% reported food insecurity and 11% reported both. This means that 1 in 3 chronically ill NHIS participants are unable to afford food, medications, or both.

Investigators also looked at ethnicity and found that participants with both medication underuse and food insecurity were more likely to be Hispanic or non-Hispanic black. They were also more likely to have several chronic conditions versus those participants who reported no food insecurity or medication underuse and a lack of insurance was more prevalent in groups with medication underuse.

"The high overall prevalence of food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse highlights how difficult successful chronic disease management in the current social environment is," says lead investigator Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, Division of General Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "These findings suggest residual unmet needs for food-insecure participants and thus have clear implications for health policy."

This link between food insecurity and medication underuse can help guide future public policy by targeting groups susceptible to both. For example, researchers found that respondents who participated in Medicaid or the Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) food and nutrition service were less likely to report both food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse. "The observations that Medicaid and WIC participation is associated with lower odds of both food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse suggest that there may be important 'spill-over' effects from programs that target food insecurity or cost-related medication underuse, by freeing up available resources," adds Dr. Berkowitz.

This study pinpoints populations that can benefit from policy changes influenced by this new data. Investigators noted that participants with incomes 100%-200% above the Federal Poverty Line, who are not always eligible for government assistance, reported high rates of food insecurity and cost-related medication underuse. This information is important to consider when setting program eligibility rules in the future.

"We report an association between public insurance programs, such as Medicaid and owed cost-related medication underuse compared with private insurance prescription benefits," explains Dr. Berkowitz. "Low- or no-cost sharing prescription drug benefits have been associated with improved health outcomes in a general population, as well as the reduction of socioeconomic disparities in health outcomes."

For policy makers, food insecurity represents an easily identified risk factor for cost-related medication underuse, making it simpler to find programs and strategies to address this endangered group in a meaningful way.

"Food insecurity is strongly associated with cost-related medication underuse, and approximately 1 in 3 chronically ill NHIS participants are unable to afford food, medication, or both, despite participation in assistance programs," concludes Dr. Berkowitz. Interventions targeted to under-resourced groups who may face 'treat or eat' choices could produce substantial health gains for these vulnerable patients."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Seth A. Berkowitz, Hilary K. Seligman, Niteesh K. Choudhry. Treat or Eat: Food Insecurity, Cost-related Medication Underuse, and Unmet Needs. The American Journal of Medicine, 2014; 127 (4): 303 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.01.002

Cite This Page:

Elsevier Health Sciences. "Treat or eat: Food insecurity linked to cost-related medication underuse in chronically ill Americans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140321095230.htm>.
Elsevier Health Sciences. (2014, March 21). Treat or eat: Food insecurity linked to cost-related medication underuse in chronically ill Americans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140321095230.htm
Elsevier Health Sciences. "Treat or eat: Food insecurity linked to cost-related medication underuse in chronically ill Americans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140321095230.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

AP (July 30, 2014) Scientists in Texas are studying the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 670 people across West Africa this year. Right now, the disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins