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BMJ Open. 2012; 2(5): e001500.
Published online Sep 4, 2012. doi:  10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001500
PMCID: PMC3437434
Carers’ perspectives on the presentation of community-acquired pneumonia and empyema in children: a case series
Joanna C Crocker,1 Meirion R Evans,1 Christopher C Butler,1 Kerenza Hood,1,3 and Colin V E Powell2
1Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
2Department of Child Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
3South East Wales Trials Unit, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
Correspondence to Dr Colin V E Powell, powellc7/at/cf.ac.uk
Received May 16, 2012; Accepted July 20, 2012.
Abstract
Objective
To describe carers’ perceptions of the development and presentation of community-acquired pneumonia or empyema in their children.
Design
Case series.
Setting
Seven hospitals with paediatric inpatient units in South Wales, UK.
Participants
Carers of 79 children aged 6 months to 16 years assessed in hospital between October 2008 and September 2009 with radiographic, community-acquired pneumonia or empyema.
Methods
Carers were recruited in hospital and participated in a structured face-to-face or telephone interview about the history and presenting features of their children's illnesses. Responses to open questions were initially coded very finely and then grouped into common themes. Cases were classified into two age groups: 3 or more years and under 3 years.
Results
The reported median duration of illness from onset until the index hospital presentation was 4 days (IQR 2–9 days). Pain in the torso was reported in 84% of cases aged 3 or more years and was the most common cause for carer concern in this age group. According to carer accounts, clinicians sometimes misjudged the origin of this pain. Almost all carers reported something unusual about the index illness that had particularly concerned them—mostly non-specific physical symptoms and behavioural changes.
Conclusions
Pain in the torso and carer concerns about unusual symptoms in their child may provide valuable additional information in a clinician's assessment of the risk of pneumonia in primary care. Further research is needed to confirm the diagnostic value of these features.
Keywords: Tropical Medicine, Epidemiology, Paediatrics, Paediatric thoracic medicine, Thoracic Medicine, Respiratory infections, Paediatric palliative care, Paediatric infectious disease & immunisation
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