Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Kai Stewart


Food allergies are an increasing health concern in the United States, affecting nearly 6 million children under the age of 18 years. Research has suggested that 18% of school-age children will have their first allergic reactions at school. Life-threatening allergic reactions experienced by children in the school setting are on the rise; however, little is known about how schools implement policies and practices in response to this issue. The purpose of this quantitative cross-sectional study was to narrow the knowledge gap by examining teachers' knowledge, ability, and confidence level caring for students with food allergies. Bandura's social cognitive theory, which holds that education and experience influence confidence implementing tasks, served as the framework that guided this research. The electronic survey was distributed to a convenience sample of 300 elementary school teachers; 93 respondents completed it. Eighty completed surveys were used in the analysis. Multiple linear regression models were constructed to analyze the relationships among confidence, education, and training related to food allergies. Results showed that teachers who lacked knowledge of food allergies also lacked confidence implementing food allergy plans. School personnel responsible for planning or revising food allergy response protocols can use these findings. The potential for positive social change includes identifying training opportunities, developing policies to sustain food allergy knowledge, and building the capacity of all school staff to implement life-saving measures when children are experiencing allergic reactions.