Internet Use Habits of Parents with Children Suffering from Food Allergy

Objective: Children with food allergy need special care. Therefore, parents of food allergic children usually seek information on the internet to improve their knowledge. However, the quality and accuracy of internet-based information may vary and misdirect parents in their daily practices. Materials and Methods: We aimed to investigate the habits of internet usage in the families reporting cow’s milk protein allergy or multiple food allergy in their children. This study was conducted by using a web-based questionnaire that can be completed on the Internet in Facebook groups of families who stated that their children had diagnosis of food allergy. Results: A total of 458 (96% female) individuals with a mean age of 32.03 ± 4.49 years participated in our survey. Three hundred forty three (74.9%) participants reported that they have preferred the internet to get information associated with the complaints of their children before seeing a physician. Two hundred ninty five (64.4%) participants reported that the information obtained on the internet and the information provided by the physicians were sometimes contradictory. As regards the contradicting information, 147 (49.8%) participants reported that they relied on the information provided by the physicians, whereas, 43 (14.9%) reported that they relied on the information on the internet. In addition, 44.3% stated that they always or most of the time gave advice to other patients and their families on the internet. Conclusion: Considering that social media use is an unpreventable habit, online sources should include correct information for information-seeking parents and should possibly be supervised or be certified by health institutions and organizations.


1. Chafen JJ, Newberry SJ, Riedl MA, Bravata DM, Maglione M, Suttorp MJ, et al. Diagnosing and managing common food allergies: A systematic review. JAMA 2010;303:1848-56.

2. McGowan EC, Keet CA. Prevalence of self-reported food allergy in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2010. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2013;132:1216- 9.

3. Internet World Stats - Usage and Population Statistics. http:// 4. Ten Amazing Social Media Growth Stats From 2015 | Social Media Today. social-networks/kadie-regan/2015-08-10/10-amazingsocialmediagrowth-stats-2015

5. Digital, Social & Mobile Worldwide in 2015 - We Are Social UK.

6. Öztürk G, Öymen G. Strategical importance of social media usage in health communication: An evaluation of nonprofit organizations of cardiac health in Turkey. Galatasaray Üniversitesi İletişim Fakültesi Dergisi 2013;3(Özel Sayı):109-31.

7. McNab C. What social media offers to health professionals and citizens. Bull World Health Organ 2009;87(8):566.

8. Ross J, Fishman J, Wang J. Internet and food allergy: What patients are seeking and what they do with the information. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2017;5:494-5.

9. Moorhead SA, Hazlett DE, Harrison L, Carroll JK, Irwin A, Hoving C. A new dimension of health care: Systematic review of the uses, benefits, and limitations of social media for health communication. J Med Internet Res 2013;15(4):e85.

10. Carpio-Escalona LV, González-de-Olano D. Use of the internet by patients attending allergy clinics and its potential as a tool that better meets patients’ needs. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2017;6(3):1064-6.

11. Bovi AM. Use of health-related online sites. Am J Bioeth 2003;3:48-52.

12. Cetinkaya PU, Güvenir H, Cetinkaya E, Kocabas C N. How reliable is the information in the internet on atopic dermatitis? Asthma Allergy Immunol 2016;14:64-70.

13. Antheunis ML, Tates K, Nieboer TE. Patients’ and health professionals’ use of social media in health care: Motives, barriers and expectations. Patient Educ Couns 2013;92:426-31.

Kaynak Göster