A new study published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection indicates an increase in the incidence of clinically diagnosed pneumonia in primary care in the UK; however, there has been a decline in the recording of clinically suspected pneumonia.
Researchers conducted a population-based cohort study using data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink to determine the incidence rates of pneumonia in primary care. Clinically diagnosed pneumonia, influenza pneumonia, pleural infection and clinically suspected pneumonia (chest infection) treated with antibiotics were assessed.
The incidence of clinically diagnosed pneumonia rose from 1.50 per 1000 person-years in 2002 to 2.22 per 1000 in 2017. The incidence of clinically suspected pneumonia increased from 2002 to 2008 (annual percentage change [APC], 3.8%; 95% CI, 0.8-6.9) but declined from 2009 to 2017 (APC, −4.9%; 95% CI, −6.7 to −3.1). The incidence of influenza pneumonia witnessed a sharp rise in 2009 due to the epidemic that year but remained low in other years. The incidence of pleural infection showed no consistent trend over time.
According to the authors, the slight decline in respiratory conditions managed as pneumonia in family practice could be possibly attributed to more conservative antibiotic prescribing strategies. They call for further research to decrease diagnostic uncertainty which could improve antibiotic stewardship in the community.