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Comparison of two non-invasive body temperature measurement methods for the detection of febrile neutropenia in children with cancer.

BACKGROUND: This study was conducted to compare the accuracy of two noninvasive thermometers (axillary and infrared non-contact forehead thermometer) in measuring core temperature compared to the gold standard oral thermometer in the detection of fever in pediatric cancer patients with febrile neutropenia.

METHODS: The study was conducted with a single group of 42 children with febrile neutropenia between 23 December 2020 and 25 January 2023 in the pediatric hematology and oncology clinic of a training and research hospital, which provides a specialized environment for both medical education and advanced scientific research in the field of pediatric hematology and oncology. The participants' body temperature was measured with an oral, axillary, and non-contact infrared forehead thermometer immediately after admission to the clinic and at 5 and 10 min after admission. The inter-rater agreement for each method and inter-method agreement between axillary and non-contact infrared temperature readings and oral readings were analyzed for each time point using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC).

RESULTS: The children in the study had a mean age of 11.62 ± 3.00 years and 28 (66.7%) were boys, 19 (45.2%) were younger children (5-10 years of age), and 23 (54.8%) were adolescents (11-16 years of age). In the analysis of agreement between the thermometers at admission and at 5 and 10 min after admission in children with febrile neutropenia, the highest agreement was between the oral and axillary thermometers (ICC: 0.584, 0.835, 0.536, respectively) and the lowest agreement was between the oral and non-contact infrared thermometers (ICC: 0.219, 0.022, 0.473, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Compared to orally measured body temperature, axillary temperature readings showed better agreement than non-contact infrared temperature readings from the forehead in pediatric patients with febrile neutropenia.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The research findings may guide nurses and families caring for pediatric patients with febrile neutropenia and should contribute to the prevention of false findings of fever and the reduction of its adverse consequences.

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