Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research

Food-induced anaphylaxis:
a needs assessment

Monica Kubizniak
Master of Science (Nutrition and Dietetics), University of Wollongong
Supervisors: Robert Loblay, Velencia Soutter, Anne Swain
November 1999

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Food-induced anaphylaxis is a serious and potentially fatal reaction occurring in individuals with severe food allergies. A questionnaire study conducted at RPAH recently investigated a range of issues regarding the management of children at risk of anaphylaxis (Debbie Cohen, 1999).

To identify the main issues that arose from the questionnaire survey and explore them in greater detail using focus group methodology.

Conducted in three parts: I. After comparison, 25 late questionnaires were pooled with those collected by Cohen, and the total of 237 re-analysed. II. Thirty participants were sent 3 questionnaires (General Health Questionnaire, GHQ; State and Trait Anxiety Index, STAI-X; and Eating Disorder Inventory, EDI). A Parenting Stress Index questionnaire (PSI) was also administered. III. Five focus groups were conducted. The discussion was taped and analysed for main themes.

I. Findings supported those of Cohen. II. Analysis of GHQ, STAI-X, and EDI indicated that the eating behaviour, and psychological status of participants was within the normal range. Mean PSI (251.3) was higher than normal population (222), suggesting that there are issues and concerns facing parents in the management of food allergies. III. The focus groups revealed valuable information, under the four main themes: (i) Family and social support. (ii) EpiPen´┐Ż use. (iii) Food labelling, and (iv) Education.

The results highlighted the need for better information for parents, and educational programs directed at: schools; the food industry (manufacturers and hospitality); and the medical profession (doctors, nurses, and other specialists).