Background: The control of asthma in children depends upon several factors, among which is the ability of parents to minimize the exposure of their children to specific allergens. If parents are ill-informed of the specific allergen sensitivity of their children, they may be unable to take the necessary steps to minimize exposure.
Objectives: This study seeks to determine the ability of parents to recall accurately the skin test results for their children. Parents were low income, multicultural, urban residents.
Methods: One hundred eligible children with persistent asthma, between 6 and 14 years old, who were skin test positive to dust mite or cockroach allergen, were recruited from a mobile asthma clinic in Los Angeles. Caretakers were interviewed in English or Spanish. From skin test results, sensitivity and specificity of parental recall of test results were computed. The sensitivity and specificity were further stratified on demographic and exposure characteristics.
Results: The sensitivity was lowest for dogs (65%), but higher for all other allergens: cat 93%, roach 91%, dust mites 88%, and mold 81%. The range of specificity was from 40% to 83%. Thus, parents were more aware of positive than of negative test results. Stratification did not appreciably change the sensitivity or specificity results.
Conclusions: We conclude that the sensitivity and specificity of parental response concerning skin test results is high regardless of cultural, demographic, or exposure levels of the child.