Parental knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on fever: a cross-sectional study in Ireland

Maria Kelly*, Laura J. Sahm, Frances Shiely, Ronan O'Sullivan, Eefje G. de Bont, Aoife Mc Gillicuddy, Roisin Herlihy, Darren Dahly, Suzanne McCarthy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objectives Fever is a common symptom of mostly benign illness in young children, yet concerning for parents. The aim of this study was to describe parental knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding fever in children aged

Design A cross-sectional study using a previously validated questionnaire. Results were analysed using descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression.

Setting Purposively selected primary schools (n=8) in Cork, Ireland, using a paper-based questionnaire. Data were collected from a cross-sectional internet-based questionnaire with a convenience sample of parents via websites and web pages (n=10) previously identified in an interview study.

Participants Parents with at least one child aged

Main outcome measures Parental knowledge, attitudes and beliefs when managing fever in children.

Results One thousand one hundred and four parents contributed to this research (121 parents from schools and 983 parents through an online questionnaire). Almost two-thirds of parents (63.1%) identified temperatures at which they define fever that were either below or above the recognised definition of temperature (38 degrees C). Nearly two of every three parents (64.6%) alternate between two fever-reducing medications when managing a child's fever. Among parents, years of parenting experience, age, sex, educational status or marital status did not predict being able to correctly identify a fever, neither did they predict if the parent alternated between fever-reducing medications.

Conclusions Parental knowledge of fever and fever management was found to be deficient which concurs with existing literature. Parental experience and other sociodemographic factors were generally not helpful in identifying parents with high or low levels of knowledge. Resources to help parents when managing a febrile illness need to be introduced to help all parents provide effective care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere015684
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017



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