Purpose – Food allergy has potential to affect direct, indirect and intangible economic costs experienced by food allergic individuals and their families, resulting in negative impacts on welfare and well‐being. The purpose of this paper is to develop an instrument to assess these economic costs of food allergy at household level and to conduct an exploratory analysis of potential economic impact. Design/methodology/approach – A case‐controlled postal pilot survey was conducted using a self‐completion instrument. Cases had either clinically or self‐diagnosed food allergy. Controls were obtained from households in which none of the members had food allergies. Findings – The instrument appeared sensitive to the economic cost differences between households with and without food allergic members. Direct costs of health care were significantly higher for cases than for controls. Similar differences were identified for indirect cost of lost earnings, and costs due to inability to perform domestic tasks because of ill health. Intangible costs (self‐reported health status and well‐being), indicated significantly lower subjective well‐being for cases. Research limitations/implications – Larger sample sizes will be needed to reliably assess the size of impact, cross‐cultural variation in costs, and whether costs vary according to severity of food allergy or between diagnosed versus self‐reported food allergy. The costs effectiveness of diagnostic methods or interventions may also be assessed using this instrument. If economic costs of food allergy are significant in the population further consideration from a public health policy perspective will be required. Originality/value – To date, economic impact of food allergy on individuals and households has not been quantified. The paper addresses this.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 26, 2010
Keywords: Economics; Personal health; Research and development; The Netherlands; United Kingdom
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