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There is little information on teachers’ perspectives on assessment and management of allergy emergencies at school.
An electronic survey was sent to school boards for distribution to all schools.
724 teachers (8%) completed the survey. 48% had at least one student under their direct supervision with a severe allergy. 28% believed that all students with severe allergies had a management plan for treatment. 18% never reviewed this plan. More than 80% were confident in recognizing and knowing what to do for a severe reaction, and in using an epinephrine auto-injector. Teachers learned auto-injector technique from public/community health professionals (63%), parents (19%), or were self-taught (7%). 12% had no instruction. Children carried the auto-injector in 50% of cases. 11% reported that auto-injectors were locked in the principal’s office and 21% were uncertain of its location. 91% identified common causes of anaphylaxis. More than 70% would administer the auto-injector with symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, looking blue, loss of consciousness, tongue swelling or shortness of breath after possible ingestion; less than 53% would administer the auto-injector for generalized itching, generalized hives, or feeling faint. 24% would administer the auto-injector without symptoms. 59% identified the appropriate level of activity after auto-injector use. To reduce risk of an allergic reaction, 80% thought that instructing the child not to share food, 69% thought that washing hands with soap and water after eating, and 66% thought that a total ban of peanut-containing food would be effective. 25% incorrectly thought that using a hand sanitizer would reduce risk.
Development of standardized training/protocols for all schools may increase teachers’ knowledge and confidence in managing allergy emergencies.