New research documents preference for school allergy policy

Investigators from the UK found that the face-to-face school allergy training program enhanced staff self-report preparation and facilitated internal allergy policy reviews, which in turn contributed to the safety and quality of life of children with severe food allergies.

Investigators led by George Raptis, MD, MSc, PhD, FRCPCH believe that this is problematic. The reason is that the prevalence of allergic diseases in children has reached “epidemic levels” and is considered a public health problem.

In the past 5 years:

The hospitalization rate for allergic reactions among patients 18 years of age and younger has increased by 72{7d6bb1f761e691f027164c9fe6d1ebbc4659a250013ce39dc45a15ede39dbac5}.

Raptis and colleagues previously reported that school preparations for allergic reactions were below the safety standards set by the Ministry of Education and the standards recommended by the European Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Through the latest research, they set out to evaluate the impact of the face-to-face training program for schools in England on the school’s self-reported readiness to respond to the needs of severely allergic children, and to determine whether the provision of a training program stimulated an internal school allergy policy review.

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Research

Between 2015 and 2016, Raptis and other investigators invited primary and secondary schools in Cumbria, northwest England, to participate in a survey of school allergic reaction readiness.

Training including peer-reviewed materials is scheduled after school and includes teachers, teaching assistants, administrative, catering and cleaning staff, and bus drivers.

The training includes interactive demonstrations, covering the overall management of children with severe food allergies and drills on the management of severe allergic reactions/allergic reactions.

Eight weeks after the training, the head teacher is required to complete 26 follow-up questionnaires.

The responses before and after the survey were analyzed together with the Chi-square test, Mann-Whitney test, and McNemar test, all of which were used to identify differences in the responses of participating schools.

Survey results

The survey was accepted by 18 elementary schools and a total of 191 school staff participated.

Approximately 29{7d6bb1f761e691f027164c9fe6d1ebbc4659a250013ce39dc45a15ede39dbac5} of school students are at risk of allergic reactions and carry automatic adrenaline injectors, and 2 of these schools report that they do not have a personalized allergy action plan.

However, all principals stated that they adopted such a policy, 100{7d6bb1f761e691f027164c9fe6d1ebbc4659a250013ce39dc45a15ede39dbac5} after training, and approximately 71{7d6bb1f761e691f027164c9fe6d1ebbc4659a250013ce39dc45a15ede39dbac5} of principals supervised high-risk students during meal times.

Most principals stated in the baseline survey that a national guideline for school management for children with severe allergies needs to be developed. After the survey, this number jumped to 18.

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