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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Psychogenic factors in the allergies of children : a study of low-income out-patient group Purdie, Margaret Isles


The purpose of this study is to examine the psychogenic factors involved in the allergies of children, and to determine the area in which the social worker can contribute to the treatment of allergic children. It is intended to define (a) the limitations of this area of function as well as the limitations of the doctor's function; (b) the ways in which the doctor and the social worker can work together in the interests of these children; and (c) some of the types and methods of treatment that the social worker can use in treating allergic children. Literature on the subject has been consulted; but the essential material of the study is derived from an analysis of cases. The study group is made up of seventy clinical cases, who have been receiving medical services over periods of from one month to two years. Eighteen of these cases have received, in addition, casework services for approximately the same period. Where there is more than one record concerning the same patient, all available material has been used. For all those cases referred to social workers, an adequate social history of the child's personality and family background is available, and for the remainder of the seventy cases use is made as far as possible of the limited information on the child's background. The age limits of the group are from birth to sixteen years of age. This study has resulted in four major conclusions. (1) Psychogenic elements in the allergies of children appear to be particularly evident. (2) Allergic disorders create additional family tensions, thereby hampering adequate treatment, as well as the general adjustment of the child concerned. (3) The present resources for the diagnosis and treatment of allergic children in Vancouver lack adequate means of dealing with the psychogenic elements in these illnesses. (4) The social worker is equipped to deal with the psychogenic elements in illness, and she can, therefore, play an important role in assisting with diagnosis and treatment. This study of the psychogenic factors of allergies in children helps to clarify the role that social work must play in an adequate treatment programme, and it indicates the need for further research into this particular area of allergic disorders both as regards prevention and treatment.

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