Symptomatic management of fever by Swiss board-certified pediatricians: results from a cross-sectional, Web-based survey

Clin Ther. 2012 Jan;34(1):250-6. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2011.12.002. Epub 2012 Jan 2.


Background: Symptomatic management is often all that is recommended in children with fever. To date, only 2 nationwide surveys of pediatricians regarding their attitudes toward fever have been published.

Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the management of children with fever by pediatricians in Switzerland.

Methods: For this survey, an initial close-ended questionnaire was tested and subsequently corrected. Between June 2010 and March 2011, an invitation was sent via electronic mail containing a link to the final version of the questionnaire. The survey was not commercially sponsored.

Results: The questionnaire was sent to 900 pediatricians, of whom 322 (36%) responded. A total of 96% of respondents identified ≥38.5°C as the rectal temperature threshold for fever treatment, and 64% indicated that they prescribe antipyretics for the treatment of general discomfort. A total of 95% of respondents indicated that they prescribe paracetamol (acetaminophen) as the first choice of antipyretic drug, and 91% indicated that they often prescribe ibuprofen as well. An alternating regimen of 2 drugs and physical antipyresis were indicated as common practice by 77% and 65% of pediatricians, respectively. Homeopathic remedies are rarely prescribed (<10% of respondents). The most commonly prescribed routes of administration in children aged 18 months, 5 years, and 10 years were rectal (78%), oral (87%), and oral (99%), respectively. Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated that they believe that an exaggerated fear of fever is common among parents, but 81% stated that they do not lower the temperature threshold for initiating pharmacologic treatment exclusively to calm parents. Most respondents (95%) indicated a belief that it is possible to educate families about the fear of fever.

Conclusions: Based on the findings from the present survey, antipyretics are often prescribed to treat the general discomfort that accompanies fever. Nonetheless, a gap exists between available evidence and clinical practice. Guidelines should take this fact into account.

MeSH terms

  • Antipyretics / administration & dosage*
  • Antipyretics / adverse effects
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fever / diagnosis
  • Fever / drug therapy*
  • Fever / physiopathology
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Specialty Boards / standards*
  • Switzerland
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipyretics