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Soboka, Matiwos; Tesfaye, Markos; Adorjan, Kristina; Krahl, Wolfgang; Tesfaye, Elias; Yitayih, Yimenu; Strobl, Ralf and Grill, Eva (2021): Effect of food insecurity on mental health of patients with tuberculosis in Southwest Ethiopia: a prospective cohort study. In: BMJ Open, Vol. 11, No. 9, e045434

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Objective The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of food insecurity on the mental health of patients with tuberculosis (TB) in Ethiopia. Design A prospective cohort study. Setting Health centres and hospitals located in Jimma zone, Southwest Ethiopia. Participants Patients with TB who had recently been diagnosed with TB and started directly observed treatment in the selected 26 health institutions from October 2017 to October 2018. A total of 268 patients were followed for 6 months and data were collected at recruitment and two follow-up visits (at 2 and 6 months). Patients with multidrug-resistant TB were not included in the study. Main outcome measures Mental distress was measured by the Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 while food insecurity was assessed by using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. Results A total of 268 patients were recruited and there was no lost to follow-up. The prevalence of food insecurity at baseline, first and second follow-up was 49.3%, 45.9% and 39.6%, respectively. Of these, 28.0% of them reported severe food insecurity at baseline which declined to 23.5% at the end of the sixth month. Likewise, the prevalence of mental distress at baseline was 61.2% but declined to 22.0% at the second follow-up. At baseline, 77.3% of patients with mental distress reported severe food insecurity but declined to 46.0% at second follow-up. In the final model, severe food insecurity (OR 4.7, 95% CI 2.4 to 9.4) and being a government employee (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.3, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.9) were associated with mental distress. Conclusion In this study, food insecurity was associated with mental distress over the course of follow-up. Likewise, there is a high prevalence of food insecurity and mental distress among patients with TB on treatment. Therefore, early assessment and interventions for food insecurity may improve the mental health of patients with TB on treatment.

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