School personnel's self-efficacy in managing food allergy and anaphylaxis

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Abstract

Background:

Food allergy affects up to 4–7% European schoolchildren. Studies identified important shortcomings on food allergy and anaphylaxis management in schools. In social cognitive theory, personal beliefs in own capabilities influence choices, effort levels, perseverance and performance accomplishments. This study aimed to investigate school personnel's self-efficacy in managing food allergy and anaphylaxis, providing a valid instrument to deeply understand how to support schools to effectively manage students at risk of food reactions.

Methods:

A total of 440 schoolteachers and caretakers from north-east Italy completed a questionnaire assessing self-efficacy in managing food allergy and anaphylaxis at school. Exploratory factor analysis was performed. Factors' internal consistency was evaluated using Cronbach's alpha. Factors' scores were estimated using Bartlett approach, and kernel density estimate of distributions was provided. Descriptive statistics explored school personnel's self-efficacy. A regression model assessed the influence of gender, school, job and previous experience.

Results:

Two factors emerged from exploratory factor analysis related to anaphylaxis management (AM) and food allergy management (FAM). The two subscales both showed good internal consistency. School personnel showed lower self-efficacy in recognizing symptoms, administering drugs and guaranteeing full participation to extra-curricular activities to food-allergic students. Participants who previously had food-allergic students showed a significantly increased self-efficacy in AM and a significantly decreased self-efficacy in FAM.

Conclusions:

The study supports the use of self-efficacy scale to identify specific areas where teachers' confidence in their ability to care for food-allergic students is especially weak. This would empower the development of training programs specifically tailored to the needs of teachers and caregivers.

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