Knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever among nurses and other health professionals: a cross-sectional survey
Gaffney, GR and Bereznicki, LR and Bereznicki, BJ, Knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever among nurses and other health professionals: a cross-sectional survey, Nurse Education Today, 97 Article 104731. ISSN 0260-6917 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Background: Fever phobia, the unfounded fear regarding the potential harms of fever in children, has been
internationally documented among parents. This fear causes anxiety in parents and health professionals are
regularly consulted for advice.
Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the knowledge, beliefs and recommended treatments among
Australian nurses, pharmacists, general practitioners and paediatricians in the management of febrile children.
Design, setting and participants: This was an online cross-sectional survey of Australian nurses, pharmacists,
general practitioners and paediatricians designed to evaluate the knowledge and preferred recommendations in
the management of febrile children.
Methods: The health professionals were recruited via Facebook. Demographic information, knowledge, beliefs
and preferred treatments were collected through the online survey, and responses were compared across
Results: Of the 839 health professionals who completed the survey, 52.0% correctly identified a fever as 38 ◦C or
above. Overall, 23.6% underestimated the temperature that constitutes a fever. Respondents reported concerns
leaving fever untreated in children, with dehydration (65.1%), seizures (65.2%), serious illness (34.4%) and
brain damage (29.9%) the most common concerns. Pharmacists were more likely to hold these concerns. The
beliefs that reducing a child’s fever with medication will reduce the risk of harm (34.7%) and prevent febrile
convulsions (51.1%) were prevalent among respondents. These beliefs were more common among pharmacists.
Pharmacists were also more likely to recommend parents monitor a child’s temperature (48.5%) and give
medication to reduce fever (64.6%).
Conclusions: Australian nurses, pharmacists, general practitioners and paediatricians reported many misconceptions surrounding the definition of fever, the potential harms of fever and its management, which may
perpetuate parental fears. These misconceptions were most common among pharmacists. Continuing professional development is essential to ease unfounded concerns and ensure the safe and judicious care of febrile
fever, child, nurses, pharmacists, general practitioners, paediatricans, surveys and questionnaires