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Knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever among nurses and other health professionals: a cross-sectional survey

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 20:20 authored by Gaffney, GR, Luke BereznickiLuke Bereznicki, Bonnie BereznickiBonnie Bereznicki
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 professions.

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 children.


Publication title

Nurse Education Today



Article number







Student Life and Enrichment


Churchill Livingstone

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Journal Production Dept, Robert Stevenson House, 1-3 Baxters Place, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, Scotland, Midlothian, Eh1 3Af

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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

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Socio-economic Objectives

Neonatal and child health

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