Parental Perception of Fever in Children

Abstract

Back ground : Fever is a common medical problem in children. parents have been shown unrealistic fears of harmful effects of fever in their children. Resulting in inappropriate management of fever in their children.
Objective: the objective of this study was to survey parents about their knowledge andattitude concerning fever in their children.
Methods : The study involved random selection of parents who brought their febrile children to emergency department or out-patient clinics of five teaching and non teaching hospitals in Baghdad from first of October to end of December 2002.
Parents of 400 febrile children were interviewed using a standard questionnaire to obtain sociodemographic information and current knowledge of fever.
Results: Approximately 69% of the respondents were female, 68% their age was in the range of 21-35 years. Seventy seven percent of parents had two or more children. More than 70% of parents demonstrated a poor understanding of definition of fever , maximum temperature of untreated fever and threshold temperature requiring antipyretics . Twenty sevev percent of parents considered temperature less than 38.0 co to be fever, another 27% did not know, the definition of fever, 61% felt that temperature of less than 40,0 co could be dangerous to a child, and 27% could not define high fever. Another 28% believed that if left untreated, temperature could rise to 42.0 co or higher, but 39% could not provide an answer, and about 60% did not know the minimum temperature for administering antipyretics. And 60% did not know the minimum temperature for bathing , or sponging.
Approximately 93% of parents demonstrated fear of consequent body damage from fever , including convulsion ,brain damage ,coma, blindness and even death.
Conclusion: parental misconception about fever reflects the lack of active health education. Health professionals have apparently not done enough to educate parents on this common medical problem and it,s consequences.
Key Words: fever , hyperthermia, hyperpyrexia.