Assessment of Food Allergy Management in College Students
Sunday, March 4, 2018
South Hall A2 (Convention Center)
Alix McLaughlin, B.A., Shelby Wilson, M.S., Catherine Peterson, Ph.D.
RATIONALE: College students’ food allergy management is rarely examined.

METHODS: As part of a larger study of college students’ perceptions of food allergy, 55 respondents were surveyed on food allergy management strategies. Frequencies and correlations are reported.

RESULTS: Tree nuts (N=20), peanuts (N=17) and milk (N=14) were the most common allergens. Half (54.5%) of participants reported no allergic reactions in the past 6 months; 23.6% reported 1-2. Most (87.3%) reported they ask about unclear ingredients in food/drinks, avoid unfamiliar food (70.9%), and read labels of unfamiliar food (83.6%). 67.3% of participants inform roommates/hallmates/residential staff about their food allergy; however, only 48.1% of participants reported that these individuals know their management plan. Only 47.3% bring their auto-injector/emergency medications to class (to meals: 42.7%; to bars/parties: 41.8%). Informing professors of a food allergy was positively correlated with emergency room visits in the past 6 months (r=.334, p=.019). Informing professors about allergy severity was associated with ER visits (r=.366, p=.011), hospitalization (r=.356, p=.013), and emergency medication use (r=.289, p=.047). Reading food labels and roommate knowledge of allergy management plan did not correlate with ER visits, hospitalization, or emergency medication use.

CONCLUSIONS: College students report suboptimal allergy control, with many gaps and reactions. Individuals with more frequent allergic reactions typically inform others (family, friends); however, our research only found associations with informing professors. Further, while college students are informing some individuals about their allergy, fewer share allergy management plans. Future research should investigate predictors of allergy management and barriers to sharing management plans with others.