Coping with Febrile Illness in Children: A Qualitative Interview Study of Parents

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate parental perception of febrile illness in their children, the most commonly applied management practices, as well as the expectations from clinicians when coping with fever in children. The study included parents of patients admitted to the Emergency and Observation Department of Children’s Clinical University Hospital in Rīga, Latvia. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews. All interviews were transcribed, and the transcripts analysed by inductive thematic analysis. Thirty-four parental interviews were analysed. Six themes emerged from the study, which were: signs causing concern; beliefs regarding fever; assessment and monitoring of fever; fever management practices; help-seeking behaviour; and expectations from the healthcare personnel. Many parents believed that fever could potentially cause injuries to the nervous system, kidneys, the brain, other internal organs, and even cause death. The perceived threat of fever resulted in frequent temperature measurements and administration of antipyretics. Meeting the emotional and information needs of the parents were considered as equally important to meeting the child’s medical needs. The study found that fever phobia exists among parents. Parental misconceptions of fever lead to overly zealous management practices. Parental education initiatives must be organised in order to improve parental knowledge of fever and its management in children.

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