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Keywords:

  • family;
  • gender;
  • peanut allergy;
  • quality of life

Background:  Peanut allergy (PA) is known to impact on quality of life (QoL) of the sufferer, but little research has focused on all family members. We therefore sought to establish the impact of PA on QoL and reported anxiety of children with clinically confirmed PA, their parents and older siblings.

Methods:  Forty-six families, who had a child with PA, completed QoL (PedsQLTM or WHOQOL-BREF), anxiety (SCAS or STAI) and perceived stress (PSS) scales. PA children completed a PA specific QoL questionnaire (Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2003;14:378). Parents and sibling also completed QoL proxy questionnaires for the PA child (PedsQLTM, Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2003;14:378).

Results:  Mothers rated their own psychological (P < 0.01) and physical (P < 0.05) QoL significantly worse than fathers rated theirs, and had higher scores than fathers for anxiety (P < 0.05) and stress (P < 0.001). Children with PA had significantly poorer physical health-related QoL (P < 0.05), QoL within school (P < 0.01) and general QoL (P < 0.05) than their siblings did, and greater separation anxiety (P < 0.05). The majority of differences were between girls with PA and female siblings. Mothers felt that there was a greater impact on QoL for their PA child, compared with that reported by siblings, fathers or the PA children themselves (P < 0.01).

Conclusions:  Mothers report that they have significantly poorer QoL and suffer more anxiety and stress than fathers do; this inter-parental difference may be an important feature of family stress caused by PA. Siblings have a similar view of how QoL affects the PA child as the PA child does, while mothers may possibly overestimate this impact.