Assessing the appropriateness of information on childhood fever in thermometer package leaflets: a systematic audit of thermometers available in the UK
Jose Hernandez, Brian D Nicholson, Matthew Thompson
Background Thermometers are found in most parents’ homes, but little is known about the quality and accuracy of the information they provide, nor its consistency with current guidelines for managing fever. Aim: To compare information included with commonly available thermometers with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance for management of feverish illness in children. Design and setting: Systematic thermometer sampling from UK retailers between February 2013 and May 2013. Method: Information was extracted from device packaging and leaflets on details and type of thermometer, instructions for use, normal ranges, and fever thresholds cited. This was compared with key parental recommendations from the 2013 NICE guidance on feverish illness in children. Associations were explored between cost of device and level of information. Results: There were 123 thermometers identified (ranging from £0.99 to £69.99), none of which made explicit reference to NICE guidance. Most (n = 81, 65.9%) recommended use at a body site consistent with NICE guidance, but only 17 (13.8%) defined fever using the correct threshold (≥38.0°C), and few (n = 12, 9.8%) included advice on fever management, of which four suggested actions not advised by NICE. There was no association between thermometer cost and provision of information consistent with NICE guidance. Conclusion: Parents and caregivers have access to a large number of thermometers, yet they lack evidence-based information about fever detection and management, and in some cases contain misleading information. This represents a missed opportunity to disseminate best practices from guidelines for management of fever in children, and thermometer manufacturers are urged to include information consistent with current guidance.