Optimizing decision-making among childcare staff on fever and common infections: cluster randomized controlled trial

K. K. B. Peetoom*, R. Crutzen, R. Verhoeven, J. M. H. A. Bohnen, B. Winkens, G. J. Dinant, J. W. L. Cals

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Children 0-4 years attending childcare are more prone to acquire infections than home-cared children. Childcare illness absenteeism due to fever is mostly driven by fear towards fever in childcare staff and parents. This may cause high childcare absenteeism, healthcare service use, and work absenteeism in parents. This study evaluates a multicomponent intervention targeting determinants of decision-making among childcare staff on illness absenteeism due to fever and common infections. Methods: The multicomponent intervention was developed based on the Intervention Mapping approach and consisted of (i) an educational session, (ii) a decision tool, (iii) an information booklet and (iv) an online video. The intervention was evaluated in a cluster randomized controlled trial in Southern Netherlands. Nine centres received the intervention and nine provided childcare-as-usual. Primary outcome measure was the percentage of illness absenteeism on cluster level, defined as number of childcare days absent due to illness on total of registered childcare contract days in a 12-week period. Secondary outcome measures included intended behaviour, attitude, risk perception, knowledge and self-efficacy of childcare staff. Outcomes were analyzed using linear mixed models accounting for clustering. Knowledge was descriptively analysed. Results: Overall illness absenteeism was comparable in intervention (2.95%) and control group (2.52%). Secondary outcomes showed significant improvements in intervention group regarding intended behaviour, two of three attitude dimensions. Knowledge increased compared with control but no differences regarding self-efficacy. Conclusion: The intervention was not effective in reducing illness absenteeism. However, the intervention improved determinants of decision-making such as intended behaviour, attitude, and knowledge on fever.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-511
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019



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