Dissertations & Theses (Open Access)

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD)


Cathy Rozmus, PhD

Second Advisor

Joan C Engebretson, DrPH

Third Advisor

Christina DesOrmeaux, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Paula Cuccaro, PhD


Background: Fever is the most common presenting complaint in the pediatric setting. Latino parents have greater misconceptions and are less knowledgeable of fever compared to other groups. They are more likely to believe that fever can cause serious harm and to present to the emergency department for non-emergent illness. Latino health practices are heavily influenced by cultural beliefs, yet few studies have focused on parental fever perception in this rapidly growing population. It is estimated that by 2050, 32% of the U.S. child population will be of Latino descent. Understanding the Latino perspective is a critical first step to formulating culturally-sensitive interventions that increase knowledge and lessen morbidity risks in Latino children with fever.

Aims: The aims of this study were to 1) understand Latino parental beliefs and norms in children with fever, and 2) describe Latino parental practices in the management of fever.

Methods: A focused ethnography design was used to explore the cultural perspectives of 21 Latino parents related to management of child fever. Individual semi-structured interviews in English and Spanish along with observations and informal staff interviews were conducted at a primary care clinic in the greater Houston metropolitan area. Interview data, field notes, and analytic memos were analyzed according to Spradley’s Developmental Research Sequence method.

Results: Four major themes emerged from the data: 1) attitudes about fever and management practices, 2) social influences on fever beliefs and practices, 3) parental ability to manage fever, and 4) expectations of treatment. Parents engaged both folk and biomedical systems of care when assessing and treating fever. They received information from many sources, they value their relationships with healthcare providers, and they are generally confident in their ability to carry out fever interventions. However, they lacked overall knowledge of the role of fever in illness, they lacked an understanding of appropriate antipyretic use, and believed that fever, if left untreated, resulted in febrile seizures and permanent brain damage.

Conclusions: Latino parents continue to have misconceptions and fears around fever. This study provides a more in-depth exploration of Latino beliefs and delivers a framework for understanding the relationship between fever beliefs and behaviors. Findings suggest that culturally-sensitive, targeted education is needed to address the general lack of fever knowledge of Latino parents and to minimize fears that primarily drive their care decisions.


Fever, Latino, Hispanic, parents, fever management, cultural beliefs

Included in

Nursing Commons



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