Recruitment of training participants
Contact details for all dine-in restaurants in Brighton, UK were identified from two online company databases (http://www.thomsonlocal.com and http://www.yell.com). The manager of each restaurant was sent an invitation to nominate one or more employees for free allergy training. The invite referenced an earlier study in the city which identified gaps in restaurant staffs’ knowledge of food allergy .
Food allergy training
The training was developed as a one-hour lecture. The learning outcomes were informed by a local survey highlighting deficits in restaurants staff’s knowledge of anaphylaxis and dietary care of people with allergies . It was intended that by the end of the training participants should be able to:
List the most common UK food allergens.
Understand the differences between food allergies and food sensitivities and intolerances.
Be aware how to avoid allergen exposure (including use of food labelling policies and avoidance of contamination).
Recognise the symptoms of severe food allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.
Respond safely and appropriately if an allergic reaction occurs in one of their customers.
Communicate effectively with food-allergic customers and their guardians to ascertain their dietary needs.
The resources were created by an officer from the UK-charity Anaphylaxis Campaign (DR), an academic clinician with a special interest in allergy (HS) and a health service researcher (TBK). The intervention was piloted with 10 chefs working in University kitchens. The training event was provided at a venue in the city centre and was delivered by DR. Participants were given a certificate of attendance on completion of the course.
Data were collected immediately before and on conclusion of the training to assess change in participant’s knowledge of food allergy. Participants completed a questionnaire which asked them to list three common food allergens and respond to six true-false questions. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to determine significant changes in knowledge scores.
Participants understanding of allergy, the relevance of training to practice, their confidence dealing with a food allergy emergency and their satisfaction with the training was evaluated using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). Participants were also asked to comment on what they most liked about the course, how it could be improved and what they will do differently at work as a result of their training.
Four weeks later, a further test questionnaire of knowledge was distributed and further qualitative comments were invited. Responses could be sent by mail or via an online survey.
Ethical approval for this research project was granted by Brighton and Sussex Medical School Research Governance and Ethical Committee (12/039/SMI).