Guerra, Selina A. (2015-08). Does Food Insecurity Predict Depression Among Brazos Valley Residents?. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Given that rural America faces challenges with access to mental health services and consistent access to healthy food, information is needed examining the relationship between these variables. The current study investigated whether food insecurity contributed significantly to the prediction of depression independent of other relevant factors such as participation in a supplemental nutrition assistance program, age, gender, race, and income in a sample of individuals residing within a predominantly rural region. The primary hypothesis was that food insecurity would be positively correlated with higher depression scores. Supplemental nutrition assistance program participation was a secondary variable of interest. Participants were 2,499 individuals living in seven rural counties who completed mailed questionnaires containing over 80 questions regarding numerous health domains and demographic information. Hierarchical regression indicated that even after controlling for important demographic variables, food insecurity was predictive of higher depression scores as measured by the PHQ-9. Individuals participating in the WIC assistance program endorsed higher levels of depression, however, there was a minimal relationship between food stamp use and depression symptoms. Gender was significantly associated with higher endorsement of depression symptoms and food insecurity, with women more likely to report symptoms than men. There was also a limited positive relationship between race and endorsing depression symptoms. In this sample, rural respondents did not differ significantly from their metropolitan counterparts regarding depression. Differences may be better accounted for by sample characteristics that moderate effects of these major predictors. Given the unique challenges that rural residents face daily and the harmful consequences of these issues, future research in this area is needed.
  • Given that rural America faces challenges with access to mental health services and consistent access to healthy food, information is needed examining the relationship between these variables. The current study investigated whether food insecurity contributed significantly to the prediction of depression independent of other relevant factors such as participation in a supplemental nutrition assistance program, age, gender, race, and income in a sample of individuals residing within a predominantly rural region. The primary hypothesis was that food insecurity would be positively correlated with higher depression scores. Supplemental nutrition assistance program participation was a secondary variable of interest. Participants were 2,499 individuals living in seven rural counties who completed mailed questionnaires containing over 80 questions regarding numerous health domains and demographic information.

    Hierarchical regression indicated that even after controlling for important demographic variables, food insecurity was predictive of higher depression scores as measured by the PHQ-9. Individuals participating in the WIC assistance program endorsed higher levels of depression, however, there was a minimal relationship between food stamp use and depression symptoms. Gender was significantly associated with higher endorsement of depression symptoms and food insecurity, with women more likely to report symptoms than men. There was also a limited positive relationship between race and endorsing depression symptoms. In this sample, rural respondents did not differ significantly from their metropolitan counterparts regarding depression. Differences may be better accounted for by sample characteristics that moderate effects of these major predictors. Given the unique challenges that rural residents face daily and the harmful consequences of these issues, future research in this area is needed.

publication date

  • August 2015