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Food insecurity and the nutritional health and well-being of women and children in high-income countries: Protocol for a qualitative systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Zoe Bell, Dr Steph Scott, Dr Shelina Visram, Professor Judith Rankin, Professor Clare BambraORCiD, Dr Nicola HeslehurstORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. Introduction: Since the global financial crises of 2008, there has been a rise in the number of people experiencing food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this. Many more are unable to afford or access food of sufficient quality and quantity to enable good health and well-being. Particularly vulnerable are mothers with young children, pregnant women and lone parents (the majority of whom are women). This review aims to understand experiences of food insecurity and how it affects women and children's nutritional health and well-being, focusing on experiences explicitly related to nutrition. Findings will help guide health policy and practice to support food-insecure women and children from high-income countries. Methods and analysis A systematic review and meta-ethnography exploring (1) food-insecure women's own accounts of their nutritional health and (2) food-insecure household's accounts of their children's nutritional health. Six major databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE, CINAHL and ASSIA), grey literature databases and relevant stakeholder websites will be searched from 1 January 2008 to 30 March 2021. Reference list and citation searches will supplement electronic database searches. Outcomes of interest are accounts of nutrition and nutritional health, including diet, food practices, infant feeding practices and physical and mental health. The review will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocol guidelines, but as this is a meta-ethnography it will adhere to eMERGe Reporting Guidance for synthesis and writing findings of the final report. Critical Appraisal Skills Programme qualitative checklist will assess the quality of studies. A meta-ethnographic analysis will be conducted for all included studies. Ethics and dissemination As a qualitative systematic review, without primary data collection, ethical approval will not be required. Findings will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020214159.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bell Z, Scott S, Visram S, Rankin J, Bambra C, Heslehurst N

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2021

Volume: 11

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 26/08/2021

Acceptance date: 16/08/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-048180