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Open Access Research article

Population-based cohort study of outpatients with pneumonia: rationale, design and baseline characteristics

Dean T Eurich1*, Sumit R Majumdar2 and Thomas J Marrie3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

3 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:135  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-135

Published: 18 June 2012

Abstract

Background

The vast majority of research in the area of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) has been based on patients admitted to hospital. And yet, the majority of patients with CAP are treated on an ambulatory basis as outpatients, either by primary care physicians or in Emergency Departments. Few studies have been conducted in outpatients with pneumonia, and there is a paucity of data on short and long term morbidity or mortality and associated clinical correlates in this group of patients.

Methods

From 2000–2002, all CAP patients presenting to 7 Emergency Departments in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada were prospectively enrolled in a population-based registry. Clinical data, including pneumonia severity index (PSI) were collected at time of presentation. Patients discharged to the community were then followed for up to 5 years through linkage to the provincial administrative databases. The current report provides the rationale and design for the cohort, as well as describes baseline characteristics and 30-day morbidity and mortality.

Results

The total sample included 3874 patients. After excluding patients who were hospitalized, died or returned to the Emergency Department the same day they were initially discharged (n = 451; 12 %), and patients who could not be linked to provincial administrative databases (n = 237; 6 %), the final cohort included 3186 patients treated according to a validated clinical management pathway and discharged back to the community. Mean age was 51 (SD = 20) years, 53 % male; 4 % resided in a nursing home, 95 % were independently mobile, and 88 % had mild (PSI class I-III) pneumonia. Within 30-days, return to Emergency Department was common (25 %) as was hospitalization (8 %) and 1 % of patients had died.

Conclusions

To our knowledge, this represents the largest clinically-detailed outpatient CAP cohort assembled to date and will add to our understanding of the determinants and outcomes in this under-researched patient population. The rich clinical data along with the long term health care utilization and mortality will allow for the identification of novel prognostic indicators. Given how under studied this population is, the findings should aid clinicians in the routine care of their outpatients with pneumonia and help define the next generation of research questions.