The psychosocial impact of an activity holiday for young children with severe food allergy: a longitudinal study



Dr. Rebecca Knibb, Psychology, Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences, School of Science, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby DE22 1GB, UK.

Tel.: +44 (0)1332 593051

Fax: +44 (0)1332 597747




Food allergy has been shown to severely affect quality of life (QoL) in children and their families. The Anaphylaxis Campaign UK supports families with allergic children and as part of that support ran an activity holiday for those with food allergy. This study investigated the effectiveness of this activity holiday for reducing anxiety and improving QoL and food allergy management for these children.


Measures were taken at baseline, at the start of the activity holiday, at the end of the holiday, at 3 and 6 months follow-up. Children (n = 24) completed a paediatric food allergy–specific QoL questionnaire (PFA-QL), a generic QoL questionnaire (PedsQL™), the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS) and the Children's Health Locus of Control (CHLC) scale at all stages of the study.


There were significant improvements in social QoL, food allergy–specific QoL, total CHLC and internal locus of control scores over time (p > 0.05). There were significant decreases in powerful others locus of control, total anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder scores (p < 0.05). Greater anxiety significantly correlated with poorer QoL at all time points; no correlations with locus of control were significant at the 3- and 6-month follow-up.


The activity holiday was of significant benefit to the children who took part, providing support for the need for activity holidays such as this for children with severe food allergy. Ways in which adaptive locus of control and improved quality of life can be facilitated need to be further explored.