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Sarah Toevs

Sarah Toevs, director of the Center for the Study of Aging, and Master of Health Science student Tiffany Robb, a graduate assistant for the center, published the manuscript “Evaluation of Food Insecurity in Adults and Children with Cystic Fibrosis: Community Case Study” to the peer reviewed journal Frontiers in Public Health.

The manuscript is a demonstration of the developing translational research partnership between the Center for the Study of Aging and the St. Luke’s Health System, specifically the St. Luke’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Idaho. Additional authors from St. Lukes include: Perry Brown, pediatrician; Dixie Durham, clinical research coordinator and a Boise State alumna; Cleary Waldren, clinical research manager; Shannon Stamper, dietician; as well as Rick Tivis, an Idaho State University statistician and Barbara Gordon, an Idaho State University clinical assistant professor.

“Partnerships such as this provide the synergy and resources often needed to translate and move clinical findings to publication,” said Toevs. “This project could not have been accomplished without the clinical expertise of the St. Luke’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Idaho team and the talents and time of students and faculty. This is compelling evidence of the value of collaboration and interprofessional teams.”

The manuscript outlines the study of a correlation between food insecurity and health outcomes of individuals with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) in Idaho. The importance of this research is highlighted by the growing recognition of the impact of social determinants on treatment outcomes, such as medical nutrition therapy, among individuals with CF. Food insecurity and the social, behavioral and physical factors impacting dietary compliance among individuals with CF not yet is well understood.

The study was conducted between August 2013 and March 2015 with 87 participants, including adult patients with CF and parents of children with CF from the St. Luke’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Idaho. Researchers used The Mountain West Cystic Fibrosis Consortium questionnaire to assess food insecurity, identify perceptions and the use of food assistance programs among participants.

The level of food insecurity was found to be significantly higher compared to the community at large. However, no correlation among participants was found between food insecurity and health outcomes, such as body mass index. This case study highlights the need for continued research on food access for this patient population, as well as communication and education efforts to address food insecurity.

The project also was presented at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) in Denver Oct. 18-20. The presentation was in both poster and podium form delivered by researchers Robb and Durham.

“This research opportunity with the St. Luke’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Idaho has provided me with an opportunity to put what I have learned through my MHS studies into practice,” said Robb. “Presenting at the 2018 NACFC was illuminating as I feel the study of food insecurity will only gain momentum in helping healthcare providers better understand its impact on healthcare, public health, and the social good.”

Read “Evaluation of Food Insecurity in Adults and Children with Cystic Fibrosis: Community Case Study”