Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), the sixth most common cause of death worldwide, is a common condition representing a significant disease burden for the community, particularly in the elderly. Antibiotics are helpful in treating CAP and are the standard treatment. CAP contributes significantly to antibiotic use, which is associated with the development of bacterial resistance and side-effects. Several studies have been published concerning treatment for CAP. Available data arises mainly hospitalized patients studies. This is an update of our 2004 Cochrane Review.
To summarize current evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) concerning the efficacy of different antibiotic treatments for CAP in participants older than 12.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, 2009, issue 1) which contains the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group's Specialized Register; MEDLINE (January 1966 to February week 2, 2009), and EMBASE (January 1974 to February 2009).
RCTs in which one or more antibiotics were tested for the treatment of CAP in ambulatory adolescents or adults. Studies testing one or more antibiotics and reporting the diagnostic criteria as well as the clinical outcomes achieved, were considered for inclusion.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors (LMB, TJMV) independently assessed study reports in the first publication. In this update, LMB performed study selection, which was checked by TJMV and MMK. Study authors were contacted to resolve any ambiguities in the study reports. Data were compiled and analyzed. Differences between review authors were resolved by discussion and consensus.
Six RCTs assessing five antibiotic pairs (1857 participants aged 12 years and older diagnosed with CAP) were included. The study quality was generally good, with some differences in the extent of the reporting. A variety of clinical, radiological and bacteriological diagnostic criteria and outcomes were reported. Overall, there was no significant difference in the efficacy of the various antibiotics.
Currently available evidence from RCTs is insufficient to make evidence-based recommendations for the choice of antibiotic to be used for the treatment of CAP in ambulatory patients. Pooling of study data was limited by the very low number of studies assessing the same antibiotic pairs. Individual study results do not reveal significant differences in efficacy between various antibiotics and antibiotic groups. Multi-drug comparisons using similar administration schedules are needed to provide the evidence necessary for practice recommendations.