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Knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever among nurses and other health professionals: a cross-sectional survey

Gaffney, GR, Bereznicki, LR ORCID: 0000-0003-3974-3437 and Bereznicki, BJ ORCID: 0000-0001-8463-4817 2021 , 'Knowledge, beliefs and management of childhood fever among nurses and other health professionals: a cross-sectional survey' , Nurse Education Today, vol. 97 , doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2020.104731.

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Abstract

Background: Fever phobia, the unfounded fear regarding the potential harms of fever in children, has beeninternationally documented among parents. This fear causes anxiety in parents and health professionals areregularly consulted for advice.Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the knowledge, beliefs and recommended treatments amongAustralian nurses, pharmacists, general practitioners and paediatricians in the management of febrile children.Design, setting and participants: This was an online cross-sectional survey of Australian nurses, pharmacists,general practitioners and paediatricians designed to evaluate the knowledge and preferred recommendations inthe management of febrile children.Methods: The health professionals were recruited via Facebook. Demographic information, knowledge, beliefsand preferred treatments were collected through the online survey, and responses were compared acrossprofessions.Results: Of the 839 health professionals who completed the survey, 52.0% correctly identified a fever as 38 ◦C orabove. Overall, 23.6% underestimated the temperature that constitutes a fever. Respondents reported concernsleaving fever untreated in children, with dehydration (65.1%), seizures (65.2%), serious illness (34.4%) andbrain damage (29.9%) the most common concerns. Pharmacists were more likely to hold these concerns. Thebeliefs that reducing a child’s fever with medication will reduce the risk of harm (34.7%) and prevent febrileconvulsions (51.1%) were prevalent among respondents. These beliefs were more common among pharmacists.Pharmacists were also more likely to recommend parents monitor a child’s temperature (48.5%) and givemedication to reduce fever (64.6%).Conclusions: Australian nurses, pharmacists, general practitioners and paediatricians reported many misconceptions surrounding the definition of fever, the potential harms of fever and its management, which mayperpetuate parental fears. These misconceptions were most common among pharmacists. Continuing professional development is essential to ease unfounded concerns and ensure the safe and judicious care of febrilechildren.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Gaffney, GR and Bereznicki, LR and Bereznicki, BJ
Keywords: fever, child, nurses, pharmacists, general practitioners, paediatricans, surveys and questionnaires
Journal or Publication Title: Nurse Education Today
Publisher: Churchill Livingstone
ISSN: 0260-6917
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.nedt.2020.104731
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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

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