Quality of life measures for food allergy


  • B. M. J. Flokstra-de Blok,

    1. Department of General Practice, GRIAC Research Institute
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  • A. E. J. Dubois

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Paediatric Pulmonology and Paediatric Allergy, GRIAC Research Institute, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
    • Department of General Practice, GRIAC Research Institute
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Correspondence: Anthony E. J. Dubois, Department of Paediatric Pulmonology and Paediatric Allergy, University Medical Center Groningen, PO Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Food allergy has become an emerging health problem in Western societies. Although food allergy is characterized by a relatively low mortality and an almost continual absence of physical symptoms, food allergic patients are continually confronted with the possibility of potentially severe reactions and the necessity of dietary vigilance. Health-related quality of life (HRQL) may be the only meaningful outcome measure available for food allergy measuring this continuous burden. HRQL may be measured with generic or disease-specific instruments. Generic instruments may be relatively unresponsive to differences or changes in health status, whereas disease-specific instruments are generally more sensitive for relatively subtle problems related to a particular illness. Recently, a number of disease-specific questionnaires have become available to measure the HRQL of food allergic patients. An important area for further research is the interpretation of the outcome of HRQL measures. In this respect, the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) is of special interest. In combination with the numbers needed to treat (NNT), this may give an ultimate insight into the clinical relevance of an intervention. Since there is still no cure for food allergy, the only available treatment is strict avoidance of the culprit food and provision of emergency treatment. The double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) is considered to be the gold standard for diagnosing food allergy. A number of studies have investigated the perceptions of parents whose children underwent a DBPCFC. In contrast to the parental perception, there is much currently still unknown about the effects of undergoing a DBPCFC in the perceptions of patients. In addition to the research on MCID and NNT of food allergy HRQL questionnaires, further research should focus on deriving quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) from food allergy HRQL questionnaires and the application of food allergy HRQL questionnaires at the individual patient level in clinical practice.