Objective: To determine whether community management of mild to moderate community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is as effective and acceptable as standard hospital management of CAP.
Design: Randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Christchurch, New Zealand, primary and secondary care.
Participants: 55 patients presenting or referred to the emergency department at Christchurch Hospital with mild to moderately severe pneumonia, assessed using a validated pneumonia severity assessment score, from July 2002 to October 2003.
Interventions: Hospital treatment as usual or comprehensive care in the home delivered by primary care teams.
Main outcome measures: Primary: days to discharge, days on intravenous (IV) antibiotics, patient-rated symptom scores. Secondary: health status measured using level of functioning at 2 and 6 weeks, patient satisfaction.
Results: The median number of days to discharge was higher in the home care group (4 days; range, 1-14) than in the hospital groups (2 days; range, 0-10; P = 0.004). There was no difference in the number of days on IV antibiotics or on subsequent oral antibiotics. Patient-rated symptom scores at 2 and 6 weeks, median change in symptom severity from baseline to 6 weeks, and general functioning at 2 and 6 weeks did not differ between the groups. Patients in both groups were satisfied with their treatment, with a clear preference for community treatment (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Mild to moderately severe CAP can be managed effectively in the community by primary care teams. This model of comprehensive care at home can be implemented by primary care teams with suitable funding structures.