Food-Allergic Adolescents at Risk for Anaphylaxis: A Randomized Controlled Study of Supervised Injection to Improve Comfort with Epinephrine Self-Injection

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. Mar-Apr 2017;5(2):391-397.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2016.12.016. Epub 2017 Jan 20.


Background: Epinephrine self-injection is a key element in the management of food allergy, yet many adolescents report that they may not be able to use the autoinjector when needed. We hypothesized that supervised self-injection with an empty syringe would increase adolescents' comfort with self-injection.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the effect of supervised self-injection on self- and parent-reported comfort and anxiety during and after clinic visits in a food allergy center.

Methods: Sixty adolescent/parent pairs were randomized to self-injection versus control (education only). The predefined primary outcome was a self-reported comfort level with the injection before versus after the intervention on a Likert scale with scores of 1 (Not at all comfortable) to 10 (Extremely comfortable). The primary outcome was evaluated via within-group and between-group analyses. Secondary outcomes included adolescent and parent reports before versus after the injection, and changes in quality of life (QoL) and anxiety a month later.

Results: Self-injection was associated with a significant immediate increase in comfort levels (primary outcome; within-group comparison: mean scores: 6.93 preintervention vs 8.37 postintervention, P < .01; between-group ANOVA: 8.37 vs 6.69, P < .01) and with significant improvements in all other predefined (secondary) measures. On follow-up, QoL improved in 52% of intervention patients as compared with 25% of controls; similar differences were observed for anxiety. Those differences were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: A self-injection (with an empty syringe) procedure in a clinic setting improves adolescents' and parents' comfort level with self-injecting. It may translate into substantial clinical benefits should self-injection be needed.

Keywords: Anxiety; Epinephrine; Exposure; Food allergy; Self-management.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Anaphylaxis / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Food Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Needle-Exchange Programs
  • Organization and Administration
  • Parents
  • Patient Comfort / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Administration
  • Syringes / statistics & numerical data


  • Epinephrine