Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research

Knowledge and attitudes of Australian primary school teachers about food allergies

Denise Kroehling-Schmiedeberg
Master of Public Health (Honours), The University of Sydney
Supervisors: Robert Loblay, Velencia Soutter, Anne Swain, Simon Chapman
March 2001


Food allergies and food-induced anaphylaxis are increasing. Children while at school are at particular risk.

To investigate primary teachers' knowledge and attitudes about food allergies; to identify barriers which may impair their abilities to deal with severe reactions to food.

Cross-sectional mailed survey of school teachers from normal education and intensive support schools. Data collection from October 2000 to January 2001.

Independent and government primary schools in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

513 (1481 invited) primary school teachers from 87 (200 invited) randomly selected independent and government schools.

Main outcome measures:
Knowledge and attitudes about food allergies.

Mean knowledge score of 7.95/15.00 (95% CI: 7.70-8.20). Rural teachers scored lowest. Longest qualified teachers obtained highest scores.

Higher knowledge was associated with confidence and positive attitudes. Increasing knowledge of primary teachers about food allergies should be the primary target to prepare teachers to deal with emergencies.