Physicians', nurses', and parents' attitudes to and knowledge about fever in early childhood

Patient Educ Couns. 2002 Jan;46(1):61-5. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(01)00160-4.


This study investigated physicians', nurses' and parents' approach to fever in early childhood. A total of 2059 questionnaires was completed by the three groups. Though most of the responders (59.8%) believed that fever is a helpful bodily mechanism of the body, there was a significant difference between physicians (85.8%) and nurses and parents (63.9 and 43.1%, respectively) (P<0.001). The majority of parents (62.7%) believed it necessary to treat children with low-grade fever (<38 degrees C) without any other sign of illness, whereas the physicians and nurses did not (10.8 and 30.2%, respectively). Regarding antipyretic medication, 92.3% of the physicians and 84% of the nurses would start treatment for a fever 38-40 degrees C, whereas 38.8% of parents would do so for a fever of 37-38 degrees C. Febrile seizure served as a reason for antipyretic treatment for 34.3% of the nurses and 20% of the parents, compared to 8.7% of the physicians. Finally, fear of brain damage due to fever was noted in almost twice as many nurses as physicians (11.8% versus 7.2%) and in three times as many parents (24.0%) as physicians. Parents and some nurses consider fever a risk factor for serious morbidity, mostly febrile convulsions and brain damage, even though these associations have long since been disproven.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fever* / drug therapy
  • Fever* / therapy
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Israel
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic