Opportunities - Improving Equity in Cancer Care: Examining the effects of a subsidized healthy food prescription program for patients with cancer and food insecurity

Improving Equity in Cancer Care: Examining the effects of a subsidized healthy food prescription program for patients with cancer and food insecurity
University of Calgary

Background
Nearly one in 5 adults with cancer cannot afford to buy enough food. This is called household food insecurity. Food insecurity contributes to poor health and reduces survival among patients with cancer. Until now the only way for these patients to access food was to go to food banks. This study will test whether a subsidized healthy food prescription program can help to reduce food insecurity in patients with cancer and thereby improve their treatment completion and outcomes.
We will do a randomized clinical trial to study the impact of a 6-month subsidized health food prescription program on the treatment completion, nutritional status, self-reported health-related outcomes, and objective health markers of 100 adults undergoing cancer treatment who have food insecurity.
To carry out this study, 100 adults undergoing cancer treatment and who are experiencing food insecurity will be randomized into a 6-month subsidized health food prescription program or to a usual care control group. People in the subsidized healthy food prescription program will get a one-time healthy food prescription + $20/household member per week to spend on healthy foods at supermarkets. People in the usual care control group will get a one-time healthy food prescription. We will collect information from participants about what they eat, their food insecurity and other health-related outcomes using electronic medical records, surveys and physical measurements. A qualitative study will also explore patients’ experiences during the program.  The findings from this research will help to understand how we can reduce food insecurity among patients with cancer and thereby improve their treatment outcomes.

Roles and Responsibilities
We are looking for patient research partners who have undergone cancer therapy in the past (chemo or radiation) and who have experienced food insecurity. We define food insecurity as answering yes to one of the following questions:
-“within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more”
-“within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to buy more”
Our patient partners will join in 3 x 90 minute co-design meetings on Zoom in May and June 2024. During these meetings  patient partners will take part in small group discussions and offer their  insights and feedback on the plans for this study. One person from each small group will share back with the full group. The suggestions made by each group will be used to improve the design of the study.

Time Commitment
Three 90-minute co-design meetings duringMay and June 2024 to be held on Zoom.

Compensation/Reimbursement
Patient partners will be offered compensation at a rate of $28/hour.

For more information or to apply:
Dana Olstad email:  Dana.olstad@ucalgary.ca