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Allergy. 2015 Jul;70(7):855-63. doi: 10.1111/all.12628. Epub 2015 Apr 16.

Patients' ability to treat anaphylaxis using adrenaline autoinjectors: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

Section of Paediatrics, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, St. Mary's Hospital, London, UK.
Academic Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Population Health Research Institute, St. George's, University of London, London, UK.
Department of Paediatric Allergy, Division of Asthma, Allergy and Lung Biology, King's College London, London, UK.



Previous work has shown patients commonly misuse adrenaline autoinjectors (AAI). It is unclear whether this is due to inadequate training, or poor device design. We undertook a prospective randomized controlled trial to evaluate ability to administer adrenaline using different AAI devices.


We allocated mothers of food-allergic children prescribed an AAI for the first time to Anapen or EpiPen using a computer-generated randomization list, with optimal training according to manufacturer's instructions. After one year, participants were randomly allocated a new device (EpiPen, Anapen, new EpiPen, JEXT or Auvi-Q), without device-specific training. We assessed ability to deliver adrenaline using their AAI in a simulated anaphylaxis scenario six weeks and one year after initial training, and following device switch. Primary outcome was successful adrenaline administration at six weeks, assessed by an independent expert. Secondary outcomes were success at one year, success after switching device, and adverse events.


We randomized 158 participants. At six weeks, 30 of 71 (42%) participants allocated to Anapen and 31 of 73 (43%) participants allocated to EpiPen were successful - RR 1.00 (95% CI 0.68-1.46). Success rates at one year were also similar, but digital injection was more common at one year with EpiPen (8/59, 14%) than Anapen (0/51, 0%, P = 0.007). When switched to a new device without specific training, success rates were higher with Auvi-Q (26/28, 93%) than other devices (39/80, 49%; P < 0.001).


AAI device design is a major determinant of successful adrenaline administration. Success rates were low with several devices, but were high using the audio-prompt device Auvi-Q.


adrenaline; anaphylaxis; autoinjector; food allergy; human factors research

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