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Parental knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever in Australia: a nationwide survey


Wilson, KM and Beggs, SA and Zosky, GR and Bereznicki, LR and Bereznicki, BJ, Parental knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever in Australia: a nationwide survey, Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 44, (5) pp. 768-774. ISSN 0269-4727 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

DOI: doi:10.1111/jcpt.13000


What is known and objective: Fever, one of the most common symptoms of illness experienced by children, often creates undue parental anxiety about the consequences of fever, which can lead to overtreatment. The full extent of this problem in Australia is not known. This study aimed to describe parents' knowledge, beliefs and perceptions about childhood fever and its management, and identify any predictors of the burden on parents when children are febrile.

Methods: This was a cross‐sectional web‐based survey of parents living in Australia. Parents with at least 1 child <6 years were recruited via Facebook. Demographic information, parental fever knowledge and beliefs and responses to the Parent Fever Management Scale, a measure of parental burden, were collected and analysed.

Results and discussion: Of the 12 179 parents who completed the survey, 42.0% knew that a temperature above 38°C constitutes a fever, with 33.4% underestimating the temperature of a fever. Parents believed that there were many harms associated with untreated fever, namely seizures (71.8%), dehydration (63.6%), serious illness (43.0%) and brain damage (36.8%). Phobic beliefs were more common among parents who underestimated the temperature of a fever. Identification of health professionals as a main information source about fever did not significantly improve knowledge or reduce fears. Up to 65.0% of respondents indicated that they practice non–evidence‐based strategies to reduce temperature. The belief that ‘every child with a fever should be treated with medication to lower temperature’ was the strongest predictor of parental burden (ß = 0.245, P < 0.001).

What is new and conclusion: Poor parental knowledge and misconceptions surrounding fever and its management are still common among parents throughout Australia. Large‐scale, sustainable educational interventions are needed to dispel misconceptions and concerns about fever, encourage appropriate and safe care of febrile children.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fever, parental knowledge, children
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Public health
Research Field:Community child health
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health education and promotion
UTAS Author:Wilson, KM (Miss Kiara Wilson)
UTAS Author:Zosky, GR (Professor Graeme Zosky)
UTAS Author:Bereznicki, LR (Professor Luke Bereznicki)
UTAS Author:Bereznicki, BJ (Dr Bonnie Bereznicki)
ID Code:133389
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2019-06-24
Last Modified:2022-07-06
Downloads:23 View Download Statistics

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