The effect of case management on childhood pneumonia mortality in developing countries

Int J Epidemiol. 2010 Apr;39 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):i155-71. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyq032.


Background: With the aim of populating the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) with parameters of effectiveness of existing interventions, we conducted a systematic review of the literature assessing the effect of pneumonia case management on mortality from childhood pneumonia.

Methods: This review covered the following interventions: community case management with antibiotic treatment, and hospital treatment with antibiotics, oxygen, zinc and vitamin A. Pneumonia mortality outcomes were sought where available but data were also recorded on secondary outcomes. We summarized results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), cluster RCTs, quasi-experimental studies and observational studies across outcome measures using standard meta-analysis methods and used a set of standardized rules developed for the purpose of populating the LiST with required parameters, which dealt with the issues of comparability of the studies in a uniform way across a spectrum of childhood conditions.

Results: We estimate that community case management of pneumonia could result in a 70% reduction in mortality from pneumonia in 0-5-year-old children. In contrast treatment of pneumonia episodes with zinc and vitamin A is ineffective in reducing pneumonia mortality. There is insufficient evidence to make a quantitative estimate of the effect of hospital case management on pneumonia mortality based on the published data.

Conclusion: The available evidence reinforces the effectiveness of community and hospital case management with World Health Organization-recommended antibiotics and the lack of effect of zinc and vitamin A supportive treatment for children with pneumonia. Evidence from one trial demonstrates the effectiveness of oxygen therapy but further research is required to give higher quality evidence so that an effect estimate can be incorporated into the LiST model. We identified no trials that separately evaluated the effectiveness of other supportive care interventions. The summary estimates of effect on pneumonia mortality will inform the LiST model.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child Mortality*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia / mortality*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Oxygen