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Ann Saudi Med. 2000 May-July;20(3-4):202-5.

Parental perceptions of fever in children.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



Fever is a common medical problem in children which often prompts parents to seek immediate medical care. The objective of this study was to survey parents about their knowledge and attitude concerning fever in their children.


The study involved the random selection of Saudi parents who brought their febrile children to the emergency rooms or walk-in clinics of four hospitals in Riyadh. Parents of 560 febrile children were interviewed using a standard questionnaire to obtain sociodemographic information and current knowledge of fever. Approximately 70% of the respondents were female, and the ages of the most were in the range of 20-40 years. More than 80% of the parents had two or more children.


More than 70% of parents demonstrated a poor understanding of the definition of fever, high fever, maximum temperature of untreated fever, and threshold temperature warranting antipyresis. About 25% of parents considered temperatures less than 38.0 o C to be fever, another 25% did not know the definition of fever, 64% felt that temperatures of less than 40.0 o C could be dangerous to a child, and 25% could not define high fever. Another 23% believed that if left untreated, temperatures could rise to 42.0 o C or higher, but 37% could not provide an answer, and 62% did not know the minimum temperature for administering antipyretics. Approximately 95% of parents demonstrated undue fear of consequent body damage from fever, including convulsion, brain damage or stroke, coma, serious vague illness, blindness, and even death.


Parental misconceptions about fever reflect the lack of active health education in our community. Health professionals have apparently not done enough to educate parents on the condition of fever and its consequences, a common problem.

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