Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research


Psychological symptoms in adults prior to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Elimination Diet prescription: exploring associations with diet-related factors and validating a screening tool

by
Natalya Lukomskyj
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, The University of Sydney
Supervisors: Anne Swain, Brooke McKinnon, Carling Chan, Kirsty Le Ray, Robert Loblay
June 2014

pdf Full Text - PDF (159 KB)

Abstract

Aim: Psychological symptoms can impair adherence to many health prescriptions, including restrictive diets. This study assessed depression, anxiety and eating disorder symptoms in adults presenting to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Allergy Unit with suspected food intolerance and examined the association between these psychological symptoms and presenting symptoms, suspected dietary triggers and the level of RPAH Elimination Diet prescribed. The validity of the RPAH Allergy Unit Assessment Form (R-AF) as a screening tool for psychological symptoms was also assessed.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on adult RPAH Allergy Unit patients prior to commencing the RPAH Elimination Diet. Psychological symptoms were measured using validated questionnaires.

Results: The mean and standard deviation for depression, anxiety and eating disorder questionnaire scores of study patients (n = 42) were comparable to the general population. Psychological symptoms did not appear to be associated with patients' presenting symptoms, suspected dietary triggers or the level of RPAH Elimination Diet prescribed. Several patients' self-reported anxiety status or eating disorder status were discordant with scores from corresponding psychological questionnaires, while self-reported depression status was comparatively more agreeable with the validated depression questionnaire.

Conclusion: The level of RPAH Elimination Diet prescribed did not appear to be associated with psychological symptoms which can impair adherence. This reinforces the importance of screening to identify patients with such symptoms and subsequently implement strategies to improve adherence. The R-AF appears promising for screening patients for depression symptoms, but may not be an effective screening tool for anxiety and eating disorder symptoms.