Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of parents on fever and febrile illness in children

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Kelly, Maria
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University College Cork
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Introduction Fever (temperature ≥38OC) is a common childhood symptom and sign, leading to concern and anxiety in parents. The aim of this research was to help parents to treat their child appropriately when they have a fever and to recognise serious illness. Methods Systematic reviews of the qualitative and quantitative literature were undertaken. An empirical qualitative study using semi-structured interviews was conducted at the ante-natal clinics associated with Cork University Maternity Hospital. A complementary study was conducted in Denmark. A large-scale questionnaire study was conducted with parents across Ireland using a previously validated questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered using webpages and websites identified in the previous qualitative study. From the results of previous work, an information leaflet was designed. A randomised controlled trial was conducted to assess the impact the information leaflet had on parental knowledge of fever and correct management strategies. Results Results from the systematic reviews suggest that fever phobia, a concept which was first described in the 1980’s, is present. Myths concerning fever continue to exist and a lack of evidence-based knowledge fails to challenge their existence. Results from the qualitative study showed that parents had a general rather than a specific knowledge of fever. When knowledge was tested on a large-scale, results showed that parents’ knowledge of fever was poor, with only a small number of parents knowing the correct definition of fever. Many fever management practices favoured by parents contrasted with recommendations in guidelines. The introduction of a fever information leaflet increased parental knowledge of correct fever temperature definition and management practices. Conclusions Parental knowledge of fever, febrile illness and evidence-based management practices are poor, based on results from this sample. This research has shown that relatively simple educational interventions are vital to equip parents with the correct knowledge to define and manage fever effectively.
Fever , Febrile illness , Children , Parents , Qualitative , Quantitative
Kelly, M. 2017. Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of parents on fever and febrile illness in children. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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