A latent class analysis to identify socio-economic and health risk profiles among mothers of young children predicting longitudinal risk of food insecurity

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Journal Article

The purpose of the current study was to use a social determinants of health (SDOH) framework and latent class analysis (LCA) to identify risk classes among mothers with young children. The risk classes were then used to predict food insecurity severity and stability/change of food insecurity over time.

The secondary data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 2,368; oversampled for non-marital births) was used in this study. Household food insecurity was assessed using the 18-items USDA Food Security Survey. A seventeen-item inventory of educational, economic stability, incarceration (i.e. social context), neighborhood safety (i.e. neighborhood and built environment), health and health care, and substance use behaviors at baseline/Year-1 were included to identify SDOH risk indicators in the LCA. Covariate-adjusted multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine the relation between risk classes at Year-1 and the severity of food insecurity at Year-3 and stability/change of food insecurity between Year-3 and Year -5.

LCA identified five risk classes: High utility and medical hardship (Class 1), high housing and employment hardship, high substance use, and incarceration (Class 2), high housing and medical hardship, poor health, and health care (Class 3), high employment hardship and low-income (Class 4) and low-risk (Class 5). The Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 had greater odds of low food security and very low food security at Year-3 compared to Class 4. In addition, compared to Class 4, Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 had greater odds unstable food insecurity and persistent food insecurity over time.

LCA could be used to identify distinctive family system risk profiles predictive of food insecurity. The generated risk profiles could be used by health care providers as an additional tool to identify families in need for resources to ensure household food security.

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