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Illustrating Risk: Anaphylaxis Through the Eyes of the Food-Allergic Child

Authors


Address correspondence to Nancy Fenton, The Centre for Leadership in Learning, McMaster University, T-13, Room 123, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada; tel: 905-525-9140 ext. 21843; fentonn@mcmaster.ca.

Abstract

The risk perception research is widely focused on children as targets of risk. To date, very few studies have consulted with the impacted group to assess the perceptions of risk associated with the exposures of interest. Much less research has investigated the experiences of children at risk for anaphylaxis, their concerns, and the psychosocial stresses associated with risk. The present study explores the perceptions and experiences of Ontario students with anaphylaxis, and their parents regarding school as a safe place in order to inform school policy around risk management and coping. A “child-centered” analytical framework incorporating illustrative techniques within interpretative analysis is outlined. Five prominent themes: (a) social and environmental barriers to safety, (b) coping strategies, (c) emotional burden of responsibility, (d) balance of responsibility (transitions), and (e) redefining “normal” are discussed. Results found that “child-centered” techniques empowered children in a process that is meaningful and relevant to their lives. A preliminary framework for understanding what risk means to children highlighted the differences in how they cope in the public sphere of school.

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