School of Health Sciences and Social Work

Allergic and Respiratory Disorder

Our research focus is on improving the quality of life of those with allergies by increasing our understanding of how these conditions develop, ways to improve diagnosis, investigating the effectiveness of management strategies, and investigating the impact these conditions have on quality of life and nutrition. Publications produced by this group are frequently in the top 5% of citations in the field of immunology and microbiology.

Locally we collaborate with researchers based in The David Hide Asthma and Allergy Unit on the Isle of Wight, University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton, and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Additionally we work closely with a number of national and international collaborators including Universities (Imperial College and Kings College London), government bodies (Food Standards Agency), and not-for-profit organisations/charities (e.g. The Cochrane Collaboration, Anaphylaxis Campaign), as well as patient and public groups to ensure the relevance of our research.

Research focus

allergy testing

Epidemiology, diagnosis and management of food allergy

Our internationally recognised cohort studies following whole population of children from birth, have enabled us to examine the development of food allergies throughout. These studies enable us to carry out unique research on the changing prevalence of allergies in specific age groups and to examine how lifestyle and dietary factors are associated with an increased risk of developing allergy.

Our systematic review group is carrying out research to identify potential emerging allergens and to synthesise evidence on the prevalence of food allergies worldwide.

Current projects:

  • Food Allergy and Intolerance Research Study (FAIR)
  • Literature searches and reviews related to the prevalence of food allergy in Europe
  • Fish consumption and fish allergy- an in depth investigation
  • The use of baked milk challenges in the diagnosis and management of cow's milk allergy.
  • Natural history of childhood food hypersensitivity its associated consequences

Management and experiences of asthma and other respiratory conditions:

We work in collaboration with our partners within the National Health Service to carry out research to understand and improve the care for those with allergic conditions. Using qualitative approaches we aim to understand the impact of preventative treatments on people’s lives and to learn from the experiences of older adults.

Our research also examines how prognosis can be improved for those with long terms respiratory conditions using routinely collected data so that management strategies can be improved. Our researchers work with Cochrane Collaboration to synthesize and improve access to research evidence.

Current projects:

  • A multi-centre, randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial of the effectiveness of the nocturnal use of a Temperature Controlled Laminar Airflow (TLA) Device (Protexo®) in adults with poorly-controlled, severe allergic asthma
  • The Impact of Asthma on the Lives of Older Adults
  • Patient reported experience measure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Non-pharmacological approaches in management of childhood atopic eczema

Atopic eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition. Treatment options for childhood eczema have focused on topical medications, with corticosteroids being the mainstay of treatment with regular use of emollients for dry skin. However, many parents worry about the side effects of the medications. Although side effects such as skin thinning and growth retardation, has not been supported by long-term studies, it is important to recognise these concerns and to look for other ways of treating eczema. Options that avoid these possible side effects would be a welcome addition to the management of eczema. Our work in this area concentrated on non-pharmacological approached in managing eczema. Our most recent completed work in this area in collaboration with University of Nottingham established that water softeners were not effective in managing the symptoms of moderate and severe eczema.

Current Projects:

  • Effectiveness of therapeutic silk clothing in the long-term management of eczema in children

Consumer behaviour, nutritional intake and quality of life associated with food allergies and intolerances

Work on this area concentrates on understanding the impact of allergic conditions on the quality of life of individuals with allergies, developing tools to measure quality of life among the allergic populations and understanding the food choice behaviour of allergic consumers.

Additionally we are interested to establish whether the nutritional intake of food allergic consumers are different to non allergenic community and whether early weaning and dietary practices among food allergic children influences their food preferences in later life.

Current projects:

  • Eating habits in children currently or previously following a cows’ milk exclusion diet

Research Group Members

  • Professor Tara Dean
  • Dr Ann Dewey
  • Carole Fogg
  • Bernie Higgins
  • Dr Sally Kilburn
  • Dr Heather MacKenzie
  • Dr Carina Venter

Postgraduate Researchers