Fever literacy and fever phobia

Matthew B. Wallenstein, Alan R. Schroeder, Michael K. Hole, Christina Ryan, Natalia Fijalkowski, Elysia Alvarez, Suzan L. Carmichael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objective. To identify the percentage of parents who define the threshold for fever between 38.0 C and 38.3 C, which has not been reported previously, and to describe parental attitudes toward fever and antipyretic use. Study Design. Thirteen-question survey study of caregivers. Results. Overall, 81% of participants defined the threshold for fever as <38.0 C, 0% correctly defined fever between 38.0 C and 38.3 C, and 19% defined fever as >38.3 C. Twenty percent of children brought to clinic for a chief complaint of fever were never truly febrile. Ninety-three percent of participants believed that high fever can cause brain damage. For a comfortable-appearing child with fever, 89% of caregivers reported that they would give antipyretics and 86% would schedule a clinic visit. Conclusion. Our finding that 0% of parents correctly defined fever is both surprising and unsettling, and it should inform future discussions of fever between parents and clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • antipyretic
  • fever
  • fever definition
  • fever illiteracy
  • fever knowledge
  • fever literacy
  • fever phobia
  • health literacy
  • parental knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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