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Revista chilena de pediatría

versión impresa ISSN 0370-4106


MORAGA M, FRANCISCO; HORWITZ Z, BENJAMÍN  y  ROMERO S, CAROLINA. Fever phobia: parents' knowledge and attitude towards fever. Rev. chil. pediatr. [online]. 2007, vol.78, n.2, pp.160-164. ISSN 0370-4106.

Background: Some myths in health are considered unquestionable, although they do not have a scientific base. This is particularly evident in relation to fever and its potential harmful consequences. The pediatric interview offers the opportunity to educate on these aspects. Objective: Describe opinions about knowledge in measurement, interpretation and treatment of fever from parents of children under 2 years-old attending a private health center and establish an educative protocol. Patients and Methods: Between February 2002 and February 2005, 235 parents who consulted for at least a second febrile episode of their first son under 2 years-old were interviewed about 19 items on knowledge, interpretation and treatment of fever. Emicist analysis of contents was used. Results: 30% of parents do not handle normal values of temperature and 55% consider treating fever with less than 38 ºC. 89% refer to have a thermometer at home (90% mercury), but only 58% use it correctly. 26% think that the fever is not self-limited and 18% that can elevate over 43 ºC. 78% consider it a cause of cerebral damage and 9% consider it lethal. The majority treats it aggressively: 80% with antipyretics (75% Acetaminophen) with temperature over 38.9 ºC and, in addition, 27% use physical techniques when it arises over 39.5 ºC. If fever does not descend in one hour, 66% associate a second antipyretic (58% ibuprofen) or repeat the first one. Over 39 ºC, most parents prefer rectal administration (86%) or the non steroidal anti-inflamatory drugs (NSAIs) instead of acetaminophen (66%). 44% do not recognize different commercial names as a same antipyretic. The source of knowledge becomes from the family (46%) and only 30% by health professionals. Conclusions: The exaggerated and unfounded fear to fever exists, causing risk actions and increasing anxiety due to disease. The information for parents is incomplete and it comes from empirical sources; therefore, it is necessary to inform about the meaning and safe treatment of fever

Palabras clave : fever; fever phobia; health attitude; children; antipyretics.

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