Since food allergy knowledge and perceptions may influence prevention and management of school-based reactions, we evaluated them among nurses in an urban school district. All District of Columbia public school nurses were asked to anonymously complete a food allergy knowledge and attitude questionnaire. Knowledge scores were calculated as percentage of correct responses. Attitude responses were tabulated across five-point Likert scales, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The knowledge questionnaire was completed by 87% of eligible nurses and the attitude questionnaire by 83%. The mean total knowledge score was 76 ± 13 with domain score highest for symptom recognition and lowest for treatment. Regarding attitudes, most (94%) felt food allergy is a serious health problem, for which schools should have guidelines (94%). Fewer believed that nut-free schools (82%) and allergen-free tables (44%) should be implemented. Negative perceptions of parents were identified as: parents of food-allergic children are overprotective (55%) and make unreasonable requests of schools (15%). Food allergy knowledge deficits and mixed attitudes exist among this sample of urban school nurses, particularly related to management of reactions and perceptions of parents. Food allergy education of school nurses should be targeted to improve their knowledge and attitudes.
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