Food Allergy-Related Bullying Among Children and Adolescents

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of pediatric psychology








adolescents; chronic illness; parents; parent–adolescent communication; social functioning and peers


OBJECTIVE: Food allergy (FA) management requires youth to avoid allergens and carry emergency medication which can impact participation in social activities. Previous research indicates that some youth experience FA-related bullying, but many studies are limited by single-item assessment methods and a narrow definition of bullying. This study describes FA-related bullying among a diverse cohort of youth with FA and evaluates parent-child disagreement and bullying assessment methods. METHODS: Youth ages 9-15 years (n = 121) diagnosed with an IgE-mediated FA and their primary caregivers were recruited from pediatric FA clinics to complete surveys about their FA-related bullying experiences. Descriptive statistics were conducted to assess overall FA-related bullying and McNemar tests were utilized to assess disagreement among parent-child report and between multi-item and single-item assessment methods. RESULTS: Seventeen percent and 31% of youth reported FA-related bullying on single-item and multi-item assessments, respectively. Twelve percent of parents reported their child had experienced FA-related bullying. Youth reported overt physical (51%), overt non-physical (66%), and relational FA-related bullying (20%). FA-related bullying was most common among classmates. Assessment method significantly affected the rates of FA-related bullying reported by youth, and parents and youth only agreed on FA-bullying experiences when assessed via the single-item measure. CONCLUSIONS: A subset of a diverse sample of youth with FA reported FA-related bullying. Clinicians should use multi-item assessment methods and ask both parents and children about their experiences to fully capture the experiences of families managing FA. School policies that facilitate FA safety and social inclusion should be promoted. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: N/A.