AIM: To investigate the (dis)agreement between, and compare the determinants of, parent and clinician severity scores.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Secondary analysis of data from a prospective cohort study of 8394 children presenting to primary care with acute (≤28 days) cough and RTI.
METHOD: Data on sociodemographic factors, parent-reported symptoms, clinician-reported findings, and severity assessments were used. Kappa (κ)-statistics were used to investigate (dis) agreement, whereas multivariable logistic regression was used to identify the factors associated with illness severity.
RESULTS: Parents reported higher illness severity (mean 5.2 [standard deviation (SD) 1.8], median 5 [interquartile range (IQR) 4-7]), than clinicians (mean 3.1 [SD 1.7], median 3 [IQR 2-4], P<0.0001). There was low positive correlation between these scores (+0.43) and poor inter-rater agreement between parents and clinicians (κ 0.049). The number of clinical signs was highly correlated with clinician scores (+0.71). Parent-reported symptoms (in the previous 24 hours) that were independently associated with higher illness severity scores, in order of importance, were: severe fever, severe cough, rapid breathing, severe reduced eating, moderate-to-severe reduced fluid intake, severe disturbed sleep, and change in cry. Three of these symptoms (severe fever, rapid breathing, and change in cry) along with inter/subcostal recession, crackles/crepitations, nasal flaring, wheeze, and drowsiness/irritability were associated with higher clinician scores.
CONCLUSION: Clinicians and parents use different factors and make different judgements about the severity of children's RTI. Improved understanding of the factors that concern parents could improve parent-clinician communication and consultation outcomes.