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Enabling self-management of pollen allergies: a pre-season questionnaire evaluating the perceived benefit of providing local pollen information


The Australian AusPollen Partnership provides respiratory allergy patients with accurate, relevant and localised pollen information via smartphone Apps. This study aims to evaluate public perceptions of need and benefit of providing local pollen information. Individuals aged 18 years and older were contacted through AusPollen Smartphone Apps (Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne), Australian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Asthma Australia and social media. A pilot questionnaire was developed in consultation with partner organisations, including select questions drawn from the National Young People and Asthma Survey. The questionnaire consisted of four sections: participant demographics, allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, symptom management and App utility. One hundred and twenty-seven people completed the survey, of whom 53% had access to local pollen information. Most (97%) participants without access to local pollen information indicated that they wanted such a service. Pollen information was most commonly perceived by participants to be useful for prevention and avoidance as well as preparation and planning. This preliminary study identified a public demand for local pollen information. Users identified practical ways in which pollen information assisted them. Publicised pollen concentrations and forecasts have the potential to improve awareness of allergy triggers and empower patient self-management, reducing symptoms and burden of disease.

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Authors wish to thank other members of the AusPollen team, including chief investigators Dr Elizabeth Ebert (Bureau of Meteorology), Assoc. Prof. Edward J Newbigin (The University of Melbourne), Dr Jeremy Silver (The University of Melbourne), Dr Rieks van Klinken (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and Prof. Simon Haberle (The Australian National University). We thank partner organisations Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy and Asthma Australia for assisting with distribution of the Questionnaire. The AusPollen Partnership Project was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council GNT1116107 with co-sponsorship from Asthma Australia and Stallergenes Australia, and in-kind contributions from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, the Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Meteorology Switzerland.


This study was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (GNT1116107) with co-sponsorship from Asthma Australia and Stallergenes Australia, and in-kind contributions from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, the Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Meteorology Switzerland.

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Correspondence to Danielle E. Medek.

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Conflict of interest

JMD declares that QUT owns patents and patent applications (AU2008/316301; US PTO 14/311944; PCT/AU2015/050348; PCT/AU2014/000630/WO2014_201499) for which she is a named inventor. JMD leads the NHMRC AusPollen Partnership Project (GNT 1116107) with matching cash and in kind co-sponsorship from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Asthma Australia, Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Stallergenes Australia and Meteorology Switzerland. She is an investigator of the BOM’s Victorian Thunderstorm Asthma Pollen Surveillance Project and has received grants from the NHMRC, Australian Research Council (DP170101630; DP190100376), National Foundation for Medical Research Innovation, the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia, Asthma Australia, Queensland University of Technology and contracted research grant from Stallergenes (France), in-kind provision of materials from Thermo Fisher (Sweden) and services from Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology (QLD, Australia). JMD’s institute has received Honorarium payments and travel expenses for education sessions and conference presentations from Stallergenes Australia, GlaxoSmithKline, Wymedical, and Meda Pharmaceuticals. PJB is a Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP170101630) and an NHMRC Partnership Project Grant (APP1116107) and has been contracted by BOM (2017–2020) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (2018–2019). Other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This study involving human participants was performed in accordance with the Australian Guidelines for Responsible Conduct of Research including the 1964 Helsinki declaration. The study was approved by the SWSLHD Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC/16/LPOOL/306).

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Informed consent was obtained from all participants.

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Medek, D.E., Simunovic, M., Erbas, B. et al. Enabling self-management of pollen allergies: a pre-season questionnaire evaluating the perceived benefit of providing local pollen information. Aerobiologia 35, 777–782 (2019).

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  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Forecast
  • Pollen
  • App
  • Symptom management