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Hunger in Hispanic households

Hernandez uses NIH grant to develop more accurate measurement tool

Daphne Hernandez
Daphne Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB

Researchers estimate that more than 3.1 million Hispanic households are at elevated risk for food insecurity. However, language barriers can thwart efforts to assess how many more are at risk.

Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston Associate Professor Daphne Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB, plans to use a two-year grant to develop a more accurate way to identify the risk of food insecurity among Spanish-speaking immigrant parents with low or limited English proficiency.

Hernandez is the primary investigator on the new project, “Evaluation of Food Security Scales among Hispanic Parents: A Cognitive Interview and Psychometric Properties Study.” The work is funded with $169,000 through a R03 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

“We may be missing many Hispanic families facing food insecurity because parents who struggle with English might not interpret the words as intended on the surveys we most commonly use,” Hernandez said. “The goal of this project is to develop a new measurement tool that can be applied to other research studies focusing on Spanish-speaking parents with low or limited English proficiency.”

The Houston-based study will enroll about 60 adults in its first phase and 150 in its second phase. The research team will conduct surveys as well as cognitive and focus-group interviews to learn more about how the target population of immigrant parents conceptualizes food insecurity.

Serving as co-investigators on the grant are Wenyaw Chan, PhD, a professor of biostatistics at the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, and Rickelle Richards, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition, dietetics, and food science at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The NICHD study builds on Hernandez’ extensive research into food insecurity, housing instability, homelessness, the health of Hispanic immigrant families, barriers to physical activity and nutrition, and obesity. Learn more about her current research projects.

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Daphne C Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB

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