Background and objective: Community acquired pneumonia (CAP) is the most frequent mortal infectious disease in the western industrial countries. So far no detailed information about incidence, pathogenetic agents, medical service and risk factors existed within Germany. This article reviews international studies, which identified risk factors for CAP.
Method: The MEDLINE database search comprised 743 articles from 1966 to December 2003. Ten published studies analysing risk factors for CAP were included in this study.
Results: Age, gender, smoking and chronic lung diseases ranged among the leading risk factors. Other variables, like medication, dangerous substances, alcohol or sociodemographic factors have so far been insufficiently proved.
Conclusion: Comparable data concerning CAP in Germany are currently inadequate. In order to improve the data situation, in 2002, the Community Acquired Pneumonia NETwork (CAPNET) was established. CAPNET assembles and soon intends to publish detailed information about incidence and risk factors of Community Acquired Pneumonia.