Winskill R, Keatinge D, Hancock S. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2011; 17: 126–132
Influences on parents' decisions when determining whether their child is sick and what they do about it: A pilot study
Parents frequently find it difficult to decide whether their child is sick, how sick their child is, and if and when they should seek medical advice. The presence of fever appears to be one influence, less is known about other behaviours, signs and symptoms which might guide parents' decisions. This exploratory descriptive pilot study aimed to gain an understanding of the factors parents monitor when determining if their previously well child is becoming unwell and how they respond to their child's developing acute illness. Twenty-five parents participated in the study. The findings indentified parents frequently focus on deviations from normal behaviour and other signs and symptoms, not just fever. Parents are capable of assessing and identifying illness and its severity and should be credited for appropriate use of the emergency department because they appear to make every effort to consult their general practitioner first.