Comparison of Food Allergy Awareness and Self-Management Among College Students at 3 Large US Universities
Saturday, March 5, 2016: 2:00 PM
Room 404AB (Convention Center)
Marilyn R Karam, MD, , , ,
Rationale: Food allergy (FA) awareness and self-management behaviors in college students are poorly understood.  We compared FA awareness between University of Pittsburgh (PITT), University of Michigan (UM), and the Ohio State University (OSU) students.


Methods: An online survey was distributed by e-mail to undergraduate students.


Results: Among respondents, 43.2% (n=748/1772) reported FA, and 59.2% (n=394) reported symptoms consistent with NIAID anaphylaxis criteria. Tree nut (28.9%), peanut (23.4%), and milk (18.5%), allergy were most commonly reported.  81% (n=605) reported a close campus contact was aware of their FA. Only 40.1% (n=300) reported maintaining emergency medication, including self-injectable epinephrine (SIE) in 79.6% (n=239), and only 57.4% (139/239) reporting always carrying SIE.  Only 48.8% reported (n=362) always avoiding their food allergen.  Past anaphylaxis was associated with increased odds of medication maintenance and SIE carriage. Among students not preparing their own food, 31.2% (n=238) reported their food preparers were aware of their FA, 21.5% (n=161) reported foods in the dining hall were always labeled for allergen content, and 32.2% (n=241) reported that allergen-free alternatives were available.  Comparatively, significant differences in reported FA rates, dining hall labeling, and rates of campus contact awareness were seen between campuses.  However, no differences among the campuses were noted in reported rates of students with past anaphylaxis, maintaining SIE, always carrying SIE, food preparer awareness, or always avoiding their allergen.

Conclusions: Reported FA rates, levels of campus awareness, and food labeling vary significantly among students at 3 Universities.  However, poor compliance rates with SIE carriage, food preparer awareness, and allergen avoidance are similar.