Spanish researchers have contributed to the dialogue on food allergy and anaphylaxis in young students with a study examining the influence of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the training of school personnel on the subject .
Food anaphylactic reactions affect 2-8% of all people ≤18 years of age worldwide. According to the study, 1 in 10,000 children experience an anaphylactic food reaction during school hours.
The study called for increased communication about food allergies and anaphylaxis in schools across Spain through Educational Interventions (EI). However, the team, led by Paloma Poza-Guedes, noted some of the limitations of current IEs.
“Research on the effectiveness of educational interventions for food allergies is limited and the quality of e-health resources is uncertain as developers of e-health instruments often have no training in health care and health professionals do not are usually not involved in the design of these tools. », Wrote the investigators. “Thus, there is a demand for the school and the health system to improve their preparation to manage students with FA. “
During the study, Poza-Guedes and his colleagues set up their own digital intervention supported by the Aulatic educational platform.
A total of 1,748 school teachers from 1,134 educational institutions were tasked with completing questionnaires that assessed educators’ knowledge, feelings, and self-efficacy about ASF. A satisfaction and quality survey of the training program was included.
All participants were enrolled between May 2016 and June 2020 and were required to take at least one of the bi-monthly online courses offered by the study.
EI’s 5 programs covered topics such as:
1. Introduction to allergies in local schools.
2. Definitions and basic concepts of food and latex allergies, with descriptions of the allergic mechanisms involved.
3. Signs and symptoms of food allergies and anaphylaxis.
4. Treatment and management of food allergic reactions.
5. Development and explanation of a detailed action plan in case of food allergy in the participating school or institution.
Participants had access to a wealth of educational tools as well as a digital library including videos on clinical symptoms of food allergies, individual food allergy plans, epinephrine self-administration methods and more. again. A forum section moderated by allergists was also included, allowing educators to ask a variety of questions related to food allergies.
A final written exam was offered and a minimum mark of 80% was required to pass.
A pre-survey and a post-survey were carried out during the study. Survey topics included school food allergy awareness (81.82% of all participants said food allergies were ‘bothersome for school staff’) and self-competency assessments. .
Before the study, only 17.9% of participants considered themselves able to help with a food allergic reaction during school hours. The post-survey results were markedly different, with 72.78% of the participants saying they felt “confident about an unexpected situation (food allergy) in the school”.
In addition to increased awareness of AF participants, the team also noted a demand for educational programs related to food allergies.
“The high enrollment rate of nearly 1,700 participants and a substantial completion rate (around 80%) were seen for the current EI over the 4-year study period, highlighting the interest and demand for quality online education (food allergies) as a practical tool. school-based training, ”the team wrote.
“It is interesting to note that the demand for this digital EI doubled during the mandatory containment of COVID-19 in Spain, indicating the willingness of participants to devote time to self-training and to acquire new professional skills. “
Conversations about food allergies and anaphylaxis in recent years have often been dominated by fear, lack of knowledge and poor training. But Poza-Gueded and his colleagues believed their study, and the notable success of EI that was included in it, paved the way for educators.
“Although constant improvement to overcome limitations is warranted, such as obtaining evidence of effectiveness in terms of educational parameters, e-health applications have become a compelling educational tool, requiring the continuous exploration of these contemporary technologies. », Wrote the investigators.
“Digital mentoring by allergists through ICT learning tools can be both effective and empowering, improving educators’ understanding and self-efficacy to ensure safer and socially inclusive management (food allergies) in schools. “
The study, “Implementation of Information and Communication Technology Education on Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis in School Settings,” has been published online in Clinical and translational allergy.