Beliefs, practices and health care seeking behavior of parents regarding fever in children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and objectives: Fever in children is one of the most common reasons for seeking medical attention. Parents often have misconceptions about the effects to fever, which leads to inappropriate use of medication and nonurgent visits to emergency departments (ED). The aim of this study was to clarify the beliefs on the effects and management of fever and to identify healthcare seeking patterns among parents of febrile children in Latvia. Materials and Methods: Parents and legal guardians of children attending ED with febrile illness were included in the study. Participants were recruited in Children’s Clinical University Hospital (CCUH) in Riga, and in six regional hospitals in Latvia. Data on beliefs about fever, administration of antipyretics, healthcare-seeking behavior, and experience in communication with health care workers were collected via questionnaire. Results: In total, 355 participants were enrolled: 199 in CCUH and 156 in regional hospitals; 59.2% of participants considered fever itself as indicative of serious illness and 92.8% believed it could raise the child’s body temperature up to a dangerous level. Antipyretics were usually administered at median temperature of 38.0 °C, and the median temperature believed to be dangerous was 39.7 °C; 56.7% of parents usually contacted a doctor within the first 24 h of the illness. Parents who believed that lower temperatures are dangerous to a child were more likely to contact a doctor earlier and out-of-hours; 60.1% of participants had contacted their family doctor prior their visit to ED. Parental evaluation of satisfaction with the information and reassurance provided by the doctors at the hospital was higher than of that provided by their family doctor; 68.2% of participants felt safer when their febrile children were treated at the hospital. Conclusions: Fever itself was regarded as indicative of serious illness and potentially dangerous to the child’s life. These misconceptions lead to inappropriate administration of antipyretics and early-seeking of medical attention, even out-of-hours. Hospital environment was viewed as safer and more reassuring when dealing with febrile illness in children. More emphasis must be placed on parental education on proper management of fever, especially in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number398
JournalMedicina (Lithuania)
Volume55
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Antipyretics
  • Fever in children
  • Fever phobia
  • Healthcare-seeking behavior
  • Parental beliefs

Field of Science

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database

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