Food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents with food-allergic children in the United States

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2010 Sep;21(6):927-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.01005.x. Epub 2010 May 14.


Parents of food-allergic children are responsible for risk assessment and management of their child's condition. Such practices are likely informed by parental knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of food allergy. Our objective was to characterize food allergy knowledge and perceptions among parents with food-allergic children. Parents were recruited nationally between January 2008 and 2009 to complete the validated, web-based Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for Parents of Children with Food Allergy. Findings were analyzed to provide composite/itemized knowledge scores, describe attitudes and beliefs, and examine the effects of participant characteristics on response. A sample of 2945 parents was obtained. Participants had an average knowledge score of 75% correct (range 19-100%). Strengths were observed in each content domain; e.g., 95% of participants accurately identified the signs of a milk-induced reaction. Weaknesses were limited to items assessing food allergy triggers/environmental risks and perceptions of susceptibility/prevalence; e.g., 52% of parents incorrectly believed young children are at higher risk for fatal anaphylaxis than adolescents. Parental attitudes/beliefs were diverse, although 85% agreed children should carry an EpiPen at school and 91% felt schools should have staff trained in food allergy. One in four parents reported food allergy caused a strain on their marriage/relationship, and 40% reported experiencing hostility from other parents when trying to accommodate their child's food allergy. In conclusion, parents in our study exhibited solid baseline knowledge although several important misconceptions were identified. While a broad spectrum of parental perceptions was observed, a large proportion of parents reported that their child's food allergy had an adverse impact on personal relationships and also agreed on certain policies to address food allergy in schools.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Perception
  • Quality of Life
  • United States