Parents who use a web-based educational tool to boost what they know about measuring and managing fever gain significantly more knowledge than parents who follow solely written and verbal instruction, according to a trial in caregivers of children with fever. Furthermore, parents prefer the web-based instruction.
Trial participants were 233 caregivers of children aged up to 17 years who visited a Canadian emergency department (ED) because of concern about a fever or whose child had a measured temperature higher than 100.4°F (38°C). Before beginning the trial, participants provided demographic information and completed an 18-item questionnaire that tested their knowledge of the etiology, measurement, therapy, and complications of fever in children. They then were divided into 3 groups, each of which was assigned to a different educational intervention: an interactive web-based module (WBM); read-only website (ROW); or written and verbal information (standard of care [SOC]).
All 3 interventions presented identical material, including the definition, measurement, and management of fever and when to seek medical attention. Participants in the WBM group used touchpads to activate interactive components, whereas ROW had no interactive components. The SOC was a paper document that detailed appropriate dosage and frequency of antipyretics. Participants in the WBM and ROW groups could access their interventions only in the ED but took the written SOC home. In addition, a nurse provided all participants with verbal instructions.
Immediately after the intervention, participants repeated the knowledge questionnaire and, compared with their pretest questionnaire scores, both the WBM and ROW groups had significantly higher scores, even after adjusting for caregiver education level, number of children, and other potentially confounding factors. The post-intervention scores of participants in the SOC, on the other hand, changed little from pre-intervention scores. Similarly, caregiver satisfaction scores were significantly higher in the WBM and ROW groups than in the SOC group (Hart L, et al. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019;35:353-358).
Thoughts from Dr Burke
Using online, interactive education modules like this one may be an effective, efficient way to expand parents’ understanding on a broad array of topics. We should investigate what’s out there and direct parents to resources that are accurate and reflect good practice.