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Differential Impact of Food Insecurity, Distress, and Stress on Self-care Behaviors and Glycemic Control Using Path Analysis. J Gen Intern Med 2019 12;34(12):2779-2785



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85074603080   7 Citations


BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to investigate the direct and indirect pathways through which food insecurity influences glycemic control and self-care behaviors.

METHODS: Using data collected from 615 adults with type 2 diabetes, we investigated pathways between food insecurity and diabetes outcomes using path analysis. We included measures of perceived stress, diabetes distress, diabetes fatalism, and depression as psychosocial factors in the pathway. Self-care behaviors included general diet, specific diet, exercise, blood sugar testing, foot care, and medication adherence. Analyses were conducted using Stata v14, to include both direct and indirect effects, with standardized estimates to allow comparison of paths.

RESULTS: Food insecurity was directly associated with stress (r = 0.43, p < 0.001), depression (r = 0.34, p < 0.001), fatalism (r = 0.09, p = 0.03), and distress (r = 0.36, p < 0.001). The type of stress, however, was differentially associated with outcomes, with distress associated with HbA1c (r = 0.25, p < 0.001), general and specific diet (r = - 0.28 and - 0.17, respectively, p = 0.001), and medication adherence (r = - 0.26, p < 0.001), while stress was associated with specific diet (r = - 0.14, p = 0.005) and medication adherence (r = - 0.15, p < 0.001) and depression was associated with exercise (r = - 0.06, p = 0.007). Food insecurity was indirectly associated with HbA1c (r = 0.08, p = 0.001), and four self-care behaviors (general diet, specific diet, exercise, and medication adherence).

CONCLUSIONS: Food insecurity influences self-care behaviors indirectly via multiple psychosocial factors, and glycemic control indirectly through diabetes distress, supporting the hypothesis that stress is an important mechanism. Programs to improve access to resources and manage psychosocial concerns should be combined with food-based programs for food insecure populations with diabetes.

Author List

Walker RJ, Campbell JA, Egede LE


Jennifer Annette Campbell PhD, MPH Assistant Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Leonard E. Egede MD Center Director, Chief, Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Rebekah Walker PhD Associate Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Blood Glucose
Cross-Sectional Studies
Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
Food Supply
Glycemic Index
Middle Aged
Self Care
Stress, Psychological