Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research

Coping strategies among suspected food intolerant patients: relationships to psychological factors, personality and quality of life.

Lisa Andersson
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, The University of Sydney
Supervisors: Velencia Soutter, Robert Loblay, Anne Swain, Brooke Scott,Carling Chan, Kirsty Le Ray, Neelam Pun, Wendy Stuart-Smith, Amy Wu, Rajshri Roy
June 2015

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Aim: This study aimed to classify RPAH Allergy Unit patients with suspected food intolerance into coping style categories, linking these to psychological, personality and quality of life scores for improved adherence and effectiveness of the RPAH Elimination Diet as a diagnostic tool.

Methods: A prospective, observational study was conducted at the RPAH Allergy Unit between March 2014 and April 2015. Data was collected using Allergy Unit Patient Information Form, World Health Organisation Quality of Life-Bref Form, Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations Form, Beck Depression Index-Second Edition, State Trait Anxiety Index Y Form and Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Data was entered into Microsoft Excel 2007 and Prism (Version 6), with descriptive and statistical (Pearson's correlation) analyses performed.

Results: Data analysis of 97 study participants found task-oriented coping was significantly negatively correlated with all psychological parameters and neuroticism, while positively correlated with psychological and environmental quality of life. Emotion-oriented coping was significantly positively correlated with all psychological parameters and neuroticism, while negatively correlated with psychological and environmental quality of life. Avoidance-oriented coping was negatively correlated with depression, while positively correlated to extraversion, agreeableness and psychological quality of life.

Conclusions: This study reproduces links between specific coping styles and psychological symptoms experienced by patients at the RPAH Allergy Unit, as seen in other study populations. Results are useful for tailoring RPAH Elimination Diet education to individual coping styles, increasing dietary adherence and success rates of this diagnostic tool. Future research should focus on coping styles of diet non-starters and drop-outs to identify psychological trends.