Assessment of psychological distress among children and adolescents with food allergy

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Background: Youth with food allergy may experience psychosocial stressors including limitations in activities, differences from peers, and anxiety. Factors such as allergy-related medical history, children's attitudes toward their allergies, and parental anxiety may function as risk and resilience factors associated with psychological distress in this population. Objective: To assess mean scores and rates of elevated scores on standardized measures of psychological distress among youth with food allergy and identify factors associated with distress. Methods: A total of 141 mothers of children age 2 to 17 years with food allergy completed questionnaires about child medical history, child anxiety and depressive symptoms, and maternal anxiety symptoms. A total of 69 children age 8 to 17 years completed self-report measures of anxiety and depressive symptoms, social stress, and attitudes toward food allergy. Results: Mean scores on self-report and parent-report measures of child anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and social stress fell in the average range on standardized measures of child distress. Comparisons with normative scores generally indicated either no differences or lower rates of distress in our sample of youth with food allergy, with the exception of child-reported anxious coping and separation anxiety symptoms, which were significantly higher than normative scores. Maternal reports of child symptoms were significantly higher than child self-reports. Multiple regression analyses yielded models in which child attitudes toward food allergy and maternal anxiety were associated with child distress for children 8 to 17 years old. Conclusion: Results suggest targets for prevention of distress, including assessment of attitudes toward food allergy and support for parental anxiety management. © 2009 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.




LeBovidge, J. S., Strauch, H., Kalish, L. A., & Schneider, L. C. (2009). Assessment of psychological distress among children and adolescents with food allergy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 124(6), 1282–1288.

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