Prathyusha Sanagavarapu, PhD
Four education interventions for parents and educators, and 1 for parents with children, were deemed to be effective in promoting food allergy literacy (FAL), according to a new review of potential interventions.1
The study’s investigators defined FAL as being a type of health literacy, essentially being made up of one’s allergy knowledge, safe and self-regulatory behaviors, and one’s capacity to look for treatment or support for allergies.
- The study identified 5 publications on interventions to promote FAL in children, with 4 interventions being for parents and educators, and 1 intervention being for parents with their children
- Interventions were educational and focused on promoting participant knowledge and skills of food allergy, and/or psychosocial in nature, promoting coping, confidence, and self-efficacy in managing children's allergies
- All interventions were deemed effective, but none assessed the long-term benefits
- Health service providers and educators may be able to use these findings to design evidence-based interventions to promote FAL within educational settings (curricula and play-based activities)
This research was authored by Prathyusha Sanagavarapu, PhD, from the School of Education at Western Sydney University in Australia.
“Importantly, little is known about educational interventions to support young children's understanding of FAL, while current research is focused mainly on parents' or educators' interventions,” Sanagavarapu and colleagues wrote. “This review addresses this void by examining interventions to support children's FAL and their carers—finding from this review can guide future interventions to promote children's FAL.”
Background and Findings
The investigators developed a search strategy over 12 selected academic databases, working to find publications which promoted FAL for children. They used various search terms to denote children or their adult caretakers, terms for food allergy, and terms relating to FAL in general.
Their research centered around publications published between 2008 and 2021, with 5 of the studies assessed having been conducted in Spain, Germany, the UK, and the US. Although 1 study they found dealt with children with their parents, the other 4 involved parents, carers, and educators in school and settings that were before school.
“The effectiveness of all interventions was measured using questionnaires or surveys, typically via a pre-and post-test,” they wrote. “Only 1 study involved a control group. The number of data collection measures ranged from 17 to 40 items and all questionnaires had a 5-point Likert scale and/or categorical or open-ended questions.”
The research team found that there were very few child-centered educational interventions, noting that the interventions aimed at promoting food allergy literacy were primarily targeted at both parents and educators.
Although the investigators noted variations in focus, duration, and methods of evaluation, the interventions they determined to be efficacious were mostly beneficial in improving knowledge and skills related to food allergy.
In total, the team found 5 interventions designed for children, parents, and educators which they deemed potentially useful in promoting FAL.
The research team did add, however, that the limited number of publications pointed to a necessity for more research into child-centered interventions to improve and expand upon food allergy literacy in children.
- Sanagavarapu, P, Dadich, A, Hussain, W. Interventions to promote food allergy literacy in childhood: a systematic scoping review. J School Health. 2023; DOI: 10.1111/josh.13310.