Background: Fever continues to be the most common complaint of children seen in a Pediatric Emergency Department (PED). Previous studies have assessed the prevalence of fever phobia in various populations. This study aims to document the incidence of fever phobia in a PED.
Methods: Through convenience sampling, caregivers of children seen in a PED were surveyed using a research-assistant-administered questionnaire. The survey contained 28 questions pertaining to caregivers' perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors regarding fever in children.
Results: In all, 230 caregivers were surveyed. The median temperature considered to be a fever was 37.8 degrees C (100.0 degrees F), with a range of 36.1 degrees C (97 degrees F) to 40.6 degrees C (105 degrees F), whereas the median temperature considered to result in harmful consequences was 40.6 degrees C (105 degrees F), with a range of 37.8 degrees C (100 degrees F) to 43.3 degrees C (110 degrees F). The median temperature at which antipyretics would be administered was 37.8 degrees C (100 degrees F), with a range of 36.1 degrees C (97 degrees F) to 39.4 degrees C (103 degrees F). More than one third of caregivers reported that they would administer antipyretics inappropriately. The median temperature at which a child would be taken to the PED was 39.4 degrees C (103 degrees F), with a range of 36.7 degrees C (98 degrees F) to 40.8 degrees C (105.4 degrees F). There was also a relationship between level of education and level of fever concern.
Conclusion: Fever phobia and inappropriate treatment for febrile children is present among caregivers of patients seen in a PED. Level of education may be a factor in fever knowledge and practices. Overly zealous, potentially harmful home practices and unnecessary PED visits for the assessment and treatment of fever in children is widespread among caregivers surveyed in the PED.