Childhood fever: Parental paracetamol administration after consulting out-of-hours general practice

Eefje G. P. M. de Bont*, Jolijn M. H. A. Bohnen, Rachel Verhoeven, Geert-Jan Dinant, Jochen W. L. Cals

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Current guidelines emphasise prudent use of paracetamol in febrile children without pain. Little evidence is available on paracetamol administration by parents in general and post-GP-consultations. Objectives: To investigate if and how often parents of febrile children administer paracetamol to their child after consulting a GP during out-of-hours care. To explore if condition (painful or not), socio-economic status and age influenced this behaviour. Methods: This was a pre-planned secondary study, attached to an RCT (n?=?25,355) that studied the effect of an illness-focused interactive booklet on antibiotic prescriptions in febrile children between three months and 12?years, at 20 GP out-of-hours centres across the Netherlands. Baseline data and ICPC codes were retrieved from the GP out-of-hours centre database. During a telephone survey two weeks after consulting a GP out-of-hours centre, a random sample of parents was asked if and how often they had given their child paracetamol. Results: Parents of 548 children participated. Most parents administrated paracetamol for two weeks after consulting (83.8%). Children received 11 doses on average during follow-up (maximum 72 doses). Paracetamol administration increased with age. Age three to six months received paracetamol in 68% (17/25) of the cases versus 89.6% (121/135) in children aged five to twelve years. Frequency of paracetamol administration was similar for most common infections, regardless of being painful or painless. Conclusion: Most children who consulted out-of-hours general practice for fever and common infections received paracetamol at home during their illness episode, regardless of a painful condition being present. Paracetamol administration increased with age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of General Practice
Issue number1
Early online date15 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Child
  • infection
  • general practice
  • paracetamol


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