Over-the-counter medication use for childhood fever: A crossectional study of Australian parents

Walsh, Anne M., Edwards, Helen E., & Fraser, Jennifer (2007) Over-the-counter medication use for childhood fever: A crossectional study of Australian parents. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 43(9), pp. 601-606.

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Aim: To report Australian parents’ medication (paracetamol, ibuprofen and homeopathic) use in childhood fever management. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 401 Queensland parents of children aged between 6 months and 5 years recruited through advertising (48.4%), face-to-face (26.4%) and snowball (24.4%) methods was conducted. A 17-item instrument was developed; construct and content validity were determined by an expert panel, and item reliability by test–retest with nine parents. Areas targeted were medication use, influences on, and barriers to medication use. Results: Most participants were female, had tertiary education and lived in a major city (mean age 34.6 years). Reducing children’s fever with over-the-counter medications was common (91%): 94% of parents reported using paracetamol and 77% reported using ibuprofen. A few (3.7%) used homeopathic remedies. Dosage was determined by weight (86.3%), age (84.3%), temperature (32.4%), illness severity (31.4%) and lethargy (20.9%). Frequency was determined by instructions on the medication label (55.3%), temperature (40.6%) and well-being (27.7%). Ibuprofen was administered too frequently by 31.5% (four hourly by 22.8%), and paracetamol by 3.8%. Fifty-two per cent had alternated medications, 65.8% of these for temperatures below 38.5°C. Decisions to alternate were influenced by information from doctors/hospitals (49.5%) and children remaining febrile post-antipyretic (41.7%). Most parents reported over-the-counter medications as potentially harmful (73.2%), citing liver (38.2%), stomach (26.4%) and kidney (18.6%) damage and overdose (35.7%) as concerns. When medications were refused or spat out (44.0%), parents used force (62.4%), different methods (29.5%) or suppositories (20.8%). Conclusions: Most parents used over-the-counter medications to reduce fever, often below 38.5°C. The belief that these medications were harmful was overridden by fears of harmful outcomes from fever.

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ID Code: 8932
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Author contact details: am.walsh@qut.edu.au
DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2007.01161.x
ISSN: 1034-4810
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PAEDIATRICS AND REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE (111400) > Paediatrics (111403)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Community Child Health (111704)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing
Copyright Statement: The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Deposited On: 10 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:37

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