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J Health Psychol. 2004 Jul;9(4):497-504.

Food allergy in young adults: perceptions and psychological effects.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Massey University, New Zealand.


Although food allergy can have serious health consequences, little is currently known about people's perceptions of food allergy. The present study examined the differences in awareness and perceptions of food allergy and anxiety between young people with and without a food allergy. Participants completed a questionnaire which asked about their perceptions and knowledge of allergies, perceived health competence and anxiety. Of the 162 participants 24 reported they were allergic to at least one food; these people perceived that their allergy had significantly less of an impact on their lives than others believed it would. Allergy status interacted with perceived health competence to affect anxiety. People with an allergy and with high health competence reported the greatest anxiety levels. Very few of the sample knew the meaning of the term 'anaphylaxis'. Findings are discussed in terms of health education implications and possibilities.

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