BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Pediatric hospitals are adopting strategies to address food insecurity (FI), a stigmatizing condition, among families with children. We hypothesized that parents and other caregivers (“caregivers”) from households with FI or marginal food security (MFS) are more likely to experience discrimination during their child’s hospitalization.

METHODS

We analyzed data from 319 caregivers of children admitted to an urban, academic children’s hospital and randomly assigned to the control arm of the double-blind randomized controlled CommunityRx-Hunger trial (November 2020 to June 2022, NCT R01MD012630). Household food security in the 30 days before admission and discrimination during hospitalization were measured with the US Household Food Security Survey and the Discrimination in Medical Settings Scale, respectively. We used logistic regression to model the relationship between food security status and discrimination, adjusting for gender, race, ethnicity, income, and partner status.

RESULTS

Most participants were African American or Black (81.5%), female (94.7%), and the parent of the hospitalized child (93.7%). FI and MFS were prevalent (25.1% and 15.1%, respectively). Experiences of discrimination during a child’s hospitalization were prevalent (51.9%). Caregivers with FI had higher odds than caregivers with food security of experiencing discrimination (adjusted odds ratio = 2.0, 95% confidence interval 1.1–3.6, P = .03); MFS was not significantly associated with discrimination (P = .25). Compared with food secure caregivers, those with FI had higher odds of 5 of 7 experiences of discrimination assessed.

CONCLUSIONS

Among parents and other caregivers, household FI is associated with experiences of discrimination during a child's hospitalization.

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