Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Beliefs and practices regarding childhood fever among parents: a cross-sectional study from Palestine

Sa’ed H Zyoud123*, Samah W Al-Jabi4, Waleed M Sweileh2, Masa M Nabulsi5, Mais F Tubaila5, Rahmat Awang3 and Ansam F Sawalha2

Author Affiliations

1 Poison Control and Drug Information Center (PCDIC), College of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

2 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

3 WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Information, National Poison Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia

4 Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacotherapy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

5 PharmD program, College of medicine and health sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-66

Published: 28 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Fever is an extremely common occurrence in paediatric patients and the most common cause for a child to be taken to the doctor. The literature indicates that parents have too many misconceptions and conflicting information about fever management. The aim of this study was to identify parents’ beliefs and practices regarding childhood fever management.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional survey among parents whose children were enrolled and presented for health care at primary health care clinics in the Nablus region of Palestine. Data were collected using structured questionnaire interviews with parents. The questionnaire consisted of ‘yes/no’ responses and multiple-response questions. Descriptive statistics were used.

Results

Overall, 402 parents were interviewed. All parents believed that fever could cause at least one harmful effect if left untreated. The harmful effects most frequently reported by parents were brain damage (38.1%), dehydration (15.7%), and other organs damage such as liver and kidney damage (14.2%). The study showed that 65.4% of parents would recognise fever by only touching the child, 31.6% would measure the temperature and 3.0% would assess temperature by touching and measuring the child. Antipyretic was preferred to be used by 34.8% of parents, while 49.8% stated that they preferred cold sponges, and 3.2% stated that they preferred homeopathic methods to treat fever. The most common factors influencing frequency of medication administration included physician’s instruction (61.7%), the degree of elevated temperature (14.9%) and instructions on the medication leaflet (13.7%). Of the participant parents, 53.2% believed antipyretics used to reduce fever were harmful. Parents reported the most harmful outcomes from these antipyretics to be allergic reactions (20.9%), effects on the stomach (16.9%), kidney damage (16.2%) and overdose (11.4%).

Conclusions

Parents were anxious when dealing with a feverish child, which resulted in incorrect or inappropriate practices. Parents require reliable evidence-based information about the care of feverish children. These results indicate a need to develop and evaluate educational programs in our setting that will provide parents with education on fever and fever management.

Keywords:
Children; Fever management; Belief; Temperature