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Open Access Research article

Development of a food allergy education resource for primary care physicians

Joyce E Yu1, Arvind Kumar2, Christine Bruhn2, Suzanne S Teuber2 and Scott H Sicherer1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

2 Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, CA, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:45  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-45

Published: 30 September 2008

Abstract

Background

Food allergy is estimated to affect 3–4% of adults in the US, but there are limited educational resources for primary care physicians. The goal of this study was to develop and pilot a food allergy educational resource based upon a needs survey of non-allergist healthcare providers.

Methods

A survey was undertaken to identify educational needs and preferences for providers, with a focus on physicians caring for adults and teenagers, including emergency medicine providers. The results of the survey were used to develop a teaching program that was subsequently piloted on primary care and emergency medicine physicians. Knowledge base tests and satisfaction surveys were administered to determine the effectiveness of the educational program.

Results

Eighty-two physicians (response rate, 65%) completed the needs assessment survey. Areas of deficiency and educational needs identified included: identification of potentially life-threatening food allergies, food allergy diagnosis, and education of patients about treatment (food avoidance and epinephrine use). Small group, on-site training was the most requested mode of education. A slide set and narrative were developed to address the identified needs. Twenty-six separately enrolled participants were administered the teaching set. Pre-post knowledge base scores increased from a mean of 38% correct to 64% correct (p < 0.001). Ability to correctly demonstrate the use of epinephrine self injectors increased significantly. Nearly all participants (>95%) indicated that the teaching module increased their comfort with recognition and management of food allergy.

Conclusion

Our pilot food allergy program, developed based upon needs assessments, showed strong participant satisfaction and educational value.