Online Program

Adolescents with food allergy: The good, the bad and the beautiful

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Madeline Walkner, BS, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Ashley Dyer, MPH, Center for Community Health, Northwestern Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Chicago, IL
Jacqueline Pence, MPH(c), Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Victoria Rivkina, MPH, Center for Healthcare Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Bridget Smith, PhD, Program in Health Services Research, Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL
Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, Center for Healthcare Studies, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Rationale: The risk of a food allergy fatality from anaphylaxis is disproportionate among adolescents and young adults.  Understanding positive and negative factors related to risk-taking in this population is critical. There is an urgent need to understand food allergy risk-taking behavior in adolescents given an increase in both prevalence and severity of food allergy, limited research of risk-taking behaviors among food allergic adolescents exists.

Methods: Between June 2014 and January 2015, a web-based survey was administered to 192 adolescents with food allergy (14-22 years old). Participants were recruited electronically through food allergy organizations. Survey questions assessed food allergy history, reactions, support and risk assessment.

Results: Over half of participants (56.6%) reported previously experiencing anaphylaxis. 13% of adolescents do not carry an epinephrine auto-injector, with 68% of this group claiming this is because they do not believe their allergy is severe enough to cause a reaction. Only 10.3% of students claim their classmates know what to do in an emergency. Adolescents reported that female friends are the most supportive of their food allergy, with 81.2% of female friends being credited with support, compared to only 64% of male friends. A high number of adolescents credit their food allergy with teaching them to become more responsible (88.5%) and making them a better advocate of themselves and of others (71.4%).

Conclusions: Improving peer support and awareness for food allergic adolescents is needed. However, it is important to note that living with a food allergy helps develop responsibility and empathy in these adolescents.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify positive factors related to risk-taking in adolescents and young adults with food allergy through an online survey. Identify negative factors related to risk-taking in adolescents and young adults with food allergy through an online survey.

Keyword(s): Food Safety, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research assistant on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.