Factors determining the ability of parents to effectively administer intramuscular adrenaline to food allergic children

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2006 May;17(3):227-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2006.00392.x.


Intramuscular adrenaline is the treatment of choice for food-related anaphylactic reactions. Although auto-injectable adrenaline devices are routinely prescribed for patients at risk of serious reactions, previous studies have shown that only one-third to one and a half of patients or their carers are able to properly use these devices. The aim of this study was to determine which factors are most strongly associated with the effective use of these devices. A 122 children with food allergies who had previously been prescribed EpiPens and were attending a single specialist pediatric allergy center in the UK. were studied prospectively. A 69% of parents were unable to use the EpiPen, did not have it available, or did not know when it should be administered. A prior practical demonstration was associated with a 4-5 fold greater chance that parents would be able to use the device (p < 0.005). Prior consultation with an allergy specialist rather than a general physician, and parents who independently sought additional information from the national self-help allergy organization were also four to six times more likely to be competent with these devices (p < 0.005). The study clearly shows that for EpiPens to be used safely and effectively it is essential to educate the carer at the time the device is prescribed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Allergy and Immunology
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy*
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Child
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Emergency Treatment*
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage
  • Epinephrine / therapeutic use*
  • Family Practice
  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Food Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Parents / education*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Adrenergic Agonists
  • Epinephrine