Assessing the Readiness of a School System to Adopt Food Allergy Management Guidelines

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IMPORTANCE: The prevalence of potentially fatal food allergies in school-aged children is rising. It is important for schools to have a food allergy management policy and an emergency action plan for each affected student.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the current status of food allergy guideline and/or policy implementation and adoption in a large school system in southeastern Wisconsin.

DESIGN: A 24-item anonymous electronic survey was developed and completed by school principals and administrators in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee School System (approximately 125 schools) in southeastern Wisconsin.

RESULTS: One in 4 responding schools reported no guidelines or policy. Schools that reported having students with special needs due to food allergy were more likely to have a local food allergy policy compared to schools that did not report having students with food allergy special needs (OR 6.3, 1.5-26, P = 0.01). Schools with food allergy guidelines/policies were 3.5 times more likely to require student individual action plans than schools with no guidelines or policies (OR 3.5, 1.00-12.2, P = 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Gaps in evidence-based food allergy policy implementation were found in this school system. Schools with food-allergic children with special needs were more likely to have guidelines/policy, however, they were not more likely to require emergency action plans. The majority of schools (66, 90%) reported interest in receiving further information or training on food allergy management.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Wisconsin Medical Journal, v. 113, issue 4, p. 155-161