Send to

Choose Destination
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2009 Jul;103(1):43-50. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60142-1.

Food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs in the United States.

Author information

Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.



Members of the general public play a significant role in the well-being of food-allergic children, although little is known about the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of food allergy among the public.


To provide insight into food allergy knowledge and perceptions among the general US population.


A national sample of adults was recruited in February 2008 to complete the validated Web-based Chicago Food Allergy Research Survey for the General Public. Findings were analyzed to provide composite/itemized knowledge scores, describe attitudes and beliefs, and examine the effect of prior knowledge/familiarity with food allergy on knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.


A sample of 2,148 respondents was obtained. Participants answered 64.9% (range, 12.5%-100.0%) of knowledge-based items correctly. Strengths were identified in areas related to symptoms/severity and triggers/environmental risks of food allergy. Knowledge was poor concerning the distinction between food allergy and food intolerance, the absence of a cure, and current means to treat food allergy. Higher scores were significantly associated with self-report of prior knowledge/familiarity with food allergy, particularly among those with prior training in food allergy (median increase, 7.9%). Perceptions regarding food allergy were generally well distributed, although respondents tended to minimize the stigma associated with food allergy and to oppose specific food allergy policies in schools.


Increased food allergy knowledge among the general public is needed. Improved public awareness of the challenges faced by food-allergic children may encourage adoption of standardized school policies to keep affected children safe. These efforts are critical for protecting young children with food allergy and avoiding life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center