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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

What factors affect the carriage of epinephrine auto-injectors by teenagers?

Clare Macadam1, Julie Barnett2, Graham Roberts13, Gary Stiefel3, Rosemary King3, Michel Erlewyn-Lajeunesse13, Judith A Holloway1 and Jane S Lucas13*

Author Affiliations

1 Academic Unit of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

2 Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK

3 University Hospital Southampton Foundation NHS Trust, Southampton, UK

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Clinical and Translational Allergy 2012, 2:3  doi:10.1186/2045-7022-2-3

Published: 2 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Teenagers with allergies are at particular risk of severe and fatal reactions, but epinephrine auto-injectors are not always carried as prescribed. We investigated barriers to carriage.

Methods

Patients aged 12-18 years old under a specialist allergy clinic, who had previously been prescribed an auto-injector were invited to participate. Semi-structured interviews explored the factors that positively or negatively impacted on carriage.

Results

Twenty teenagers with food or venom allergies were interviewed. Only two patients had used their auto-injector in the community, although several had been treated for severe reactions in hospital. Most teenagers made complex risk assessments to determine whether to carry the auto-injector. Most but not all decisions were rational and were at least partially informed by knowledge. Factors affecting carriage included location, who else would be present, the attitudes of others and physical features of the auto-injector. Teenagers made frequent risk assessments when deciding whether to carry their auto-injectors, and generally wanted to remain safe. Their decisions were complex, multi-faceted and highly individualised.

Conclusions

Rather than aiming for 100% carriage of auto-injectors, which remains an ambitious ideal, personalised education packages should aim to empower teenagers to make and act upon informed risk assessments.

Keywords:
Food allergy; adolescent; adherence; anaphylaxis; auto-injector; patient education