Unrealistic concerns about fever in children: The influence of cultural-ethnic and sociodemographic factors

Hedva Tessler*, Rafael Gorodischer, Joseph Press, Natalya Bilenko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parental fear and misconceptions about fever are widespread in western society. Ethnicity and sociodemographic factors have been suggested as contributing factors. Objectives: To test the hypothesis that undue parental concern about fever is less in traditional than in western cultural-ethnic groups. Methods: Bedouin (traditional society) and Jewish (western society) parents of childrep aged 0-5 years with fever were interviewed in a pediatric emergency unit Interviews were conducted in the parents' most fluent language (Arabic or Hebrew). A quantitative variable (a 9 item "fever phobia" scale) was constructed. Results: The parents of 101 Jewish and 100 Bedouin children were interviewed. More Bedouin parents were unemployed, had less formal education and had more and younger children than the Jewish parents. Parents in both groups expressed erroneous beliefs and practices about fever; quantitative but not qualitative differences in fever phobia variables were documented. Compared with their Jewish counterparts, more Sedouin parents believed that fever may ca use brain damage and death, administered antipyretic medications for temperature ≤ 38°C and at excessive doses, and consulted a physician within 24 hours even when the child had no signs of illness other than fever (all P values < 0.001). The mean fever phobia score was higher in the Bedouin than in the Jewish group (P <0.001). By multivariate analysis, only the cultural-ethnic origin correlated with fever phobia. Conclusions: A higher degree of fever phobia was found among parents belonging to the traditional Bedouin group as compared to western society parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-349
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Antipyretics
  • Children
  • Ethnicity
  • Fever phobia
  • Parental misconceptions


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