Table of Contents
Journal of Allergy
Volume 2014, Article ID 160363, 7 pages
Research Article

Exploring Low-Income Families’ Financial Barriers to Food Allergy Management and Treatment

1School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo LHN 1711, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1
2Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo BMH 3115, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1
3Department of Medicine, McGill University, Room 101, Lady Meredith House, 1110 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A3

Received 8 October 2013; Revised 23 December 2013; Accepted 6 January 2014; Published 17 February 2014

Academic Editor: Hugo Van Bever

Copyright © 2014 Leia M. Minaker et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. Low-income families may face financial barriers to management and treatment of chronic illnesses. No studies have explored how low-income individuals and families with anaphylactic food allergies cope with financial barriers to anaphylaxis management and/or treatment. This study explores qualitatively assessed direct, indirect, and intangible costs of anaphylaxis management and treatment faced by low-income families. Methods. In-depth, semistructured interviews with 23 participants were conducted to gain insight into income-related barriers to managing and treating anaphylactic food allergies. Results. Perceived direct costs included the cost of allergen-free foods and allergy medication and costs incurred as a result of misinformation about social support programs. Perceived indirect costs included those associated with lack of continuity of health care. Perceived intangible costs included the stress related to the difficulty of obtaining allergen-free foods at the food bank and feeling unsafe at discount grocery stores. These perceived costs represented barriers that were perceived as especially salient for the working poor, immigrants, youth living in poverty, and food bank users. Discussion. Low-income families report significant financial barriers to food allergy management and anaphylaxis preparedness. Clinicians, advocacy groups, and EAI manufacturers all have a role to play in ensuring equitable access to medication for low-income individuals with allergies.