Mental health of children with food allergy and their parents

Roberts, Kate (2019) Mental health of children with food allergy and their parents. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The psychological impact that food allergy may have for both children and their parents has received increased interest in recent years. This portfolio aims to offer a timely and novel contribution to this field, through firstly presenting a systematic review with meta-analysis assessing the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress in children with food allergy. An original piece of empirical research is subsequently presented, assessing worry, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress symptoms in a relatively large sample (N=104-105) of parents of children with food allergy.

The systematic review found pooled prevalence estimates of 12.6% (95% CIs 6.0%-19.3%) for anxiety and 6.9% (95% CIs 1.3%-12.5%) for depression in children with food allergy. Compared to their peers without food allergy, the review found a small but significant increase in anxiety (d=0.21; 95% CIs 0.16-0.26) and depression (d=0.30; 95% CIs 0.14-0.45) in children with food allergy. However, due to high degrees of heterogeneity and relatively small sample sizes, these results remain tentative. Additionally, only one pilot study was found assessing post-traumatic stress.

The empirical study used an online questionnaire to assess mental health in parents of children with food allergy. The study found 81.0% of parents reported clinically significant worry, 42.3% met the clinical cut-off for post-traumatic stress symptoms, and 39.1% reported moderate-extremely severe anxiety. Regression analyses were conducted including allergy severity, intolerance of uncertainty, and food allergy self-efficacy, which were significant for all three psychological outcomes. However, intolerance of uncertainty was the most consistent predictor of poorer mental health.

Overall, the portfolio highlights the need for further consideration of the psychological impact of food allergy. In particular, the potential for post-traumatic stress in this population, which had not previously been assessed in a large-scale study. Theoretical and clinical implications, as well as recommendations for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Users 11011 not found.
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2019 11:19
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2019 11:19


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