Anaphylaxis and food allergy: the result of an intervention in the community
Keywords:anaphylaxis, epinephrine, food allergy
Introduction and Objective: Since anaphylaxis is a lifethreatening medical emergency if not treated, community
awareness is important. The objective of this study was to
assess the effectiveness of a workshop about basic concepts
on food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools and nurseries,
aimed to develop in the staff adequate knowledge and timely
management of this clinical conditions.
Methods: Between December of 2013 and March of 2014
we visited six schools attended by children who suffered food
anaphylaxis followed in the Pediatric Clinic of Allergic Diseases.
A questionnaire, approved by the Portuguese Society of
Allergology, was applied before and after the workshop on food allergy and anaphylaxis. A score was calculated according to the number of correct answers. Each correct answer corresponded to one point, maximal score: eight. Descriptive and frequency study and Student t test were used to analyze data, using SPSS Statistics version 20.
Results: Seventy-seven school employers participated in
the sessions, of whom 51 were evaluated before and after the
theoretical session. Regarding the results before the meeting, it was found that 98% of the participants knew that anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency and that even very small amounts of the allergen can trigger an anaphylactic reaction. Only 55% recognized the symptoms of anaphylaxis or knew how to properly use an epinephrine autoinjector, and 24% had never heard of epinephrine autoinjector. The average score before and after the sessions was 6.3/8 and 7.5/8 respectively (p<0.001).
Recognition of symptoms and treatment of anaphylaxis were the topics that had a higher increase in the calculated score. All the participants were motivated to receive regular training.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that half of the staff
caring for children with anaphylaxis could not properly recognize or treat an anaphylactic reaction. The educational workshop was apparently effective in the awareness of this condition. In spite of the study limitations (the size of the sample), our results point out the effectiveness of this kind of intervention to disseminate knowledge on a potentially fatal condition, as well as the need of a regular educational program in the community.
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