Debilitating beliefs and emotional distress in patients given immunotherapy for insect sting allergy: A prospective study

Ronit Confino-Cohen*, Samuel Melamed, Arnon Goldberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients who receive venom immunotherapy (VIT) for systemic reactions (SRs) to insect stings are advised that once they reach the maintenance dose they are almost 100% protected against future SRs. However, initial evidence indicates that some patients continue to perceive themselves as highly debilitated by the allergy and are preoccupied with the allergic event. These factors have significant impact on their emotional well-being and allergy-related quality of life (ARQOL). We aimed to explore prospectively whether patients would experience these adverse psychological outcomes after receiving VIT coupled with professional explanation and reassurance of protection. Thirty-four patients who received VIT for systemic insect allergy and were under close medical surveillance were included. Before and 1 year after initiation of treatment, patients completed a questionnaire that measured debilitating beliefs, preoccupation with the SR event, emotional distress ARQOL, and QOL in general. Physician-graded severity of the reaction was recorded as well. VIT had a beneficial effect on all allergy-related variables. Self-imposed debilitating beliefs, preoccupation with the anaphylactic event, and ARQOL significantly but modestly improved over time. No association was found between ARQOL and QOL in general. The later variable as well as emotional distress remained unchanged after the VIT. This study shows that patients with sting allergy guided by trained personnel and treated with VIT show a reduction in dysfunctional beliefs and an improvement in ARQOL. Disputing medically unfounded beliefs that persist in some patients might improve their ARQOL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-551
Number of pages6
JournalAllergy and Asthma Proceedings
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Adverse psychological outcomes
  • Debilitating beliefs
  • Emotional distress
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Hymenoptera
  • Immunotherapy
  • Insect sting allergy
  • Venom


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