Challenges in the diagnosis of paediatric pneumonia in intervention field trials: recommendations from a pneumonia field trial working group
Published in: Lancet Respir Med 2019;7(12):1068-1083
Abstract Pneumonia is a leading killer of children younger than 5 years despite high vaccination coverage, improved nutrition, and widespread implementation of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses algorithm. Assessing the effect of interventions on childhood pneumonia is challenging because the choice of case definition and surveillance approach can affect the identification of pneumonia substantially. In anticipation of an intervention trial aimed to reduce childhood pneumonia by lowering household air pollution, we created a working group to provide recommendations regarding study design and implementation. We suggest to, first, select a standard case definition that combines acute (≤14 days) respiratory symptoms and signs and general danger signs with ancillary tests (such as chest imaging and pulse oximetry) to improve pneumonia identification; second, to prioritise active hospital-based pneumonia surveillance over passive case finding or home-based surveillance to reduce the risk of non-differential misclassification of pneumonia and, as a result, a reduced effect size in a randomised trial; and, lastly, to consider longitudinal follow-up of children younger than 1 year, as this age group has the highest incidence of severe pneumonia.