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Content loaded within last 14 days Food Insecurity among College Students Differs by Questionnaire Modality: An Exploratory Study

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Objectives: Literature suggests that college (ie, post-secondary) students experience food insecurity (FI) at alarming rates. However, the commonly used FI questionnaires have undergone limited evaluations for accuracy in this sub-population. The objective of this exploratory study was to evaluate if FI estimates among college students differ by survey distribution modality. Methods: A test-retest study was conducted from October to December 2017. A random sample of undergraduate students (N = 343) participated in an online survey. After completing the survey, a random sample of these students (N = 66; 29%) completed the same items in paper-and-pencil format. Responses were compared with percent agreement and kappa (κ) coefficients. Results: Students were less likely to affirm each item on paper-and-pencil questionnaires. Percent agreement ranged from 71.2% to 96.9% across items, and κ coefficients ranged from poor to fair. FI prevalence differed by 15% between online and paper-and-pencil assessments (40.9% and 25.8%, respectively). Percent agreement for FI categorization was 75.8% and κ=0.47. Conclusions: Differing survey modalities resulted in varying FI classifications in a sample of under-graduate students. Though limited by size and representativeness, this supports the need for further testing of FI surveys, as accurate FI estimates are essential to serving college students.
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Keywords: FOOD SECURITY; HUNGER; UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health, Washington State University, Seattle, WA;, Email: [email protected] 2: Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 3: Associate Dean and Director of Extension and Outreach, University of Illinois Extension, Urbana, IL

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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