We're not doctors and nurses: the teacher's role in the management of anaphylaxis in primary school settings

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Eastwood, K & Cutter-Mackenzie, A 2010, 'We're not doctors and nurses: the teacher's role in the management of anaphylaxis in primary school settings', International Research in Early Childhood Education, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 34-49.

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Worldwide the prevalence of severe and life threatening allergies is rising. In 2007 35% of Victorian schools had students at risk for anaphylaxis (Office of the Premier), and three children have allegedly died from anaphylaxis in Australian school and early childhood education settings during the last six years alone. Teaching personnel are increasingly responsible for the safety of severely allergic children, yet there is a dearth of research examining anaphylaxis management in Australian educational and child-care facilities. This study examines the teacher's role in anaphylaxis management through in- depth interviews with 12 Victorian primary school teachers. The resulting data indicate that teachers' roles in anaphylaxis management were complex, multifaceted, and emotionally demanding. Stress and anxiety were strongly associated with the onus to prevent a reaction, and to provide medical care in the event of an emergency. Participants considered such responsibilities beyond the reasonable parameters of teacher duties yet an increasingly common expectation in a teaching climate characterised by work intensification. Stress and coping was impacted primarily by a number of local sociocultural factors such as the attitude of parents and colleagues. Factors identified in previous literature were also significant, namely, clear policy and procedures; and practical considerations such as teacher education and safety measures.