Date of Conferral





Public Health


Bill Davis


AbstractThe influenza virus is one of the most commonly occurring respiratory viral infections in the world. The outer capsule of the virus contains 18H proteins and 11N proteins, which allows the virus to reform in over 100 different strands and outperform the vaccine. Despite efforts to improve access to care and reduce vaccine inequities; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 9-45 million documented influenza-related illnesses, 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalization, and 64,000 deaths yearly. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether food insecurity, access to care and other social determinants of health such as age, race, and sex adversely affect influenza outcomes in the United States. Existing scientific literature suggests poor nutrition causes a reduction in serum albumin levels. In addition, serum albumin is a known biomarker in animal trials that block the replication of the influenza virus when present. This study was developed with a quantitative approach that utilized 1,282 eligible participants from the (2012) Health Interview Survey. The Health Belief Model was used to explain how recommended health behaviors can be achieved if stakeholders are knowledgeable of how their health is personally affected. This study’s results showed that influenza was common among individuals that experienced food insecurity. The majority of the study population had no trouble finding a doctor and influenza cases were more closely linked to food insecurity than access to care. Social factors also played a critical role as women were more likely to contract the influenza virus than males. Racial and ethnic groups that experienced higher levels of food insecurity also experience greater instances of the influenza virus. In conclusion, the finding suggests food insecurity is a risk factor for contracting the influenzas virus.

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