February 27, 2014

Parents' knowledge, attitudes, and practice in childhood fever: an internet-based survey.

Parents' knowledge, attitudes, and practice in childhood fever: an internet-based survey.
Br J Gen Pract. 2014 Jan;64(618):e10-6
Authors: de Bont EG, Francis NA, Dinant GJ, Cals JW

BACKGROUND Fever in children is common and mostly caused by self-limiting infections. However, the number of (re)consultations in primary care is high, driven by lack of knowledge and fear among parents. These drivers have only been studied in parents when consulting with their sick child. AIM To study knowledge, attitudes, and practice in childhood fever in parents within the general population. DESIGN AND SETTING Internet-based survey of a sample of 1000 parents from the general population of the Netherlands. METHOD A 26-item cross-sectional survey was conducted of parents with one or more children aged < 5 years. RESULTS Of 625 responders (average age 34.9 years), 63.4% and 43.7% indicated ever visiting their GP or GP's out-of-hours centre with a febrile child, respectively: 88.3% knew the definition of fever (>38°C), 55.2% correctly stated that antibiotics are effective in treating bacterial infections and not viral infections, and 72.0% knew that not every child with a fever needs treatment with antibiotics or paracetamol. When asked to prioritise aspects of a GP's consultation, 53.6% considered physical examination as most important. Obtaining a prescription for antibiotics or antipyretics was considered least important. CONCLUSION Knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning childhood fever varied among parents with young children. Parents generally expect thorough physical examination and information, but not a prescription for medication (antibiotics or antipyretics) when consulting with a feverish child. GPs must be aware of these expectations as these provide opportunities to enhance consultations in general and prescription strategies in particular.

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