Date of Award

5-1-2015

Degree Type

Evidence-Based Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Suzanne E. Zentz

Abstract

The prevalence of food allergies in children has increased 18% between 1997 and 2007 (CDC, 2013). Furthermore, 84% of food allergic children will experience a reaction at school (Powers, Bergren, & Finnegan, 2007). An exposure in a sensitive child may progress quickly into potentially life threatening symptoms and death if not treated. The purpose of this evidence based practice (EBP) project was to determine if implementation of a food allergy management policy in a school setting reduced overall incidence rates of food allergy reactions in school children and to examine compliance to policy guidelines. The project encompassed implementation of a revised food allergy policy based on best practice guidelines at a local charter school in northwest Indiana. Best practice recommendations include avoidance, a personalized emergency care plan (ECP), and staff education. A 60-minute educational session for staff members and volunteers was provided reviewing the best practice policy and demonstration of two common epinephrine auto-injectors. Independent t tests were conducted to compare numbers of food allergy exposures and incidence of reactions from Spring 2014 (pre policy implementation) to Fall 2014 (post policy implementation). Analyses revealed there were no significant differences between groups. Secondary analyses examined policy compliance via chi-square test of independence and significant interactions were found. An increase in food allergic children having medications consistently traveling with them for use in emergency situations occurred post policy implementation. Statistically, policy implementation did not result in a significant difference in incidence rates of food allergy reactions from the pre policy phase to the post policy phase but did improve compliance with the policy. The findings support the overall need for a policy addressing food allergies within school systems.