How Parents’ Communication Work Can Help Manage Food Allergies in Children

April 10, 2023

Dr. Sonja Burmeister, Food Allergy Mom, Doctorate and Professor of Occupational Therapy specializing in Pediatrics, Physicians Assistant, Certified in Early Intervention (OTD, MSPA-C, OTR/L, EICP-OT)

Food allergies affect millions of people worldwide, and children are among the most vulnerable. For parents of food allergic children, managing the condition can be overwhelming, stressful, and emotionally challenging. In a recent study published in Health Communication, researchers explored how parents use communication to navigate the complexities of food allergy management while balancing their relational goals and identities.

The study involved 26 parents of food allergic children, who were interviewed and asked to share their experiences with managing the condition. The researchers found that parents utilized communication work to legitimize food allergies, balance potential face-threats with identity and relational goals, and coordinate care with their spouses.

One of the most significant challenges for parents of food allergic children is ensuring that their child’s condition is taken seriously by others. The study found that parents often had to engage in communication work to make others understand the severity of the allergy and the risks associated with exposure to allergens.

Additionally, the study highlighted the emotional labor that parents have to undertake to balance their child’s health needs with their own relational goals and identities. Parents had to navigate situations where they needed to advocate for their child’s safety while preserving their relationship with others, such as in social situations or with family members who did not take the allergy seriously.

Communication work also played a crucial role in coordinating care with spouses. Parents had to engage in ongoing conversations with their partners to ensure that both were on the same page regarding the management of the allergy. This involved discussing the allergy with the child, teaching them how to manage it, and communicating with healthcare providers.

The study’s findings suggest that parents of food allergic children must engage in communication work, which can be demanding and effortful, as a form of disease management. By understanding how parents use communication to navigate the complexities of food allergy management, healthcare providers and others can provide more effective support and resources to help families cope with the condition.

In conclusion, food allergies are a critical public health issue that significantly impacts the quality of life for patients and their families. Through effective communication work, parents of food allergic children can navigate the challenges of managing the condition while preserving valued relationships and identities.

#foodallergies #children #communicate

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To enjoy previous blogs, please click the links below:

Early Food Intervention to Prevent Food Allergy in Young Children

Helping Children with Food Allergies during the Holiday Season

The Impact of Childhood Food Allergies on Parenting Styles

The Importance of Developing Universal Food Safety Protocols

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