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Background: Fever is a common symptom of benign childhood illness but a high fever may be a sign of a serious infection. Temperature is often used by parents to check for illness in their children, and the presence of a high temperature can act as a prompt to consult a healthcare professional. It would be helpful for GPs to understand how well parental assessment of the presence of fever correlates with temperature measurement in the clinic in order to incorporate the history of the child’s fever into their clinical assessment. Methods: Secondary analysis of a cross-sectional diagnostic method comparison study. Parents were asked whether they thought their child had fever before their temperature was measured by a researcher. Fever was defined as a temperature of 38 °C and higher using either an axillary or tympanic thermometer. Results: Of 399 children recruited, 119 (29.8%) were believed by their parents to be febrile at the time of questioning and 23 (6.3%) had a fever as measured by a researcher in the clinic. 23.5% of children with a parental assessment of fever were found to have a fever in the clinic. Less than 1% of children whose parents thought they did not have a fever were found to be febrile in the clinic. Having more than one child did not improve accuracy of parents assessing fever in their child. Conclusions: In the GP surgery setting, a child identified as afebrile by their parent is highly likely to be measured as such in the clinic. A child identified as febrile by their parent is less likely to be measured as febrile.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Primary Care

Publication Date