Background: Millions of older adults who develop community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) each year survive, but there is a large knowledge gap on the burden of CAP and the recovery process in survivors from the patient perspective.
Methods: The newly developed CAP Burden of Illness Questionnaire was administered through a Web survey to a nationwide sample of US adults aged ≥50 years who were recently diagnosed with CAP. Survey respondents with unresolved symptoms or other CAP-related health problems completed a second survey 30 days later; a third survey was completed another 30 days later by respondents with unresolved symptoms or problems. Nationally representative results describing the average time to recovery of symptoms and other CAP-related problems were achieved using post-stratification weights.
Results: Five hundred participants completed the initial survey. The time to resolution for the CAP symptoms of weakness, shortness of breath, and tiredness exceeded 3 weeks on average. There was an average of 13 days of absenteeism, and 3 weeks (mean =21 days) before achieving full work/activity productivity after CAP. For participants with health conditions that worsened from pneumonia, chronic emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease took the longest to return to baseline (mean =60 and 52.4 days, respectively).
Conclusion: The results from this study demonstrate that older adults surviving a CAP episode experience a significant multi-symptom illness with long recovery periods to achieve pre-CAP health and productivity. These findings highlight the need for further research on effective clinician-patient communication, the need for patient-centered outcomes in clinical trials for CAP therapeutics, adequate home care during the recovery process, and the pursuit of CAP prevention strategies.
Keywords: burden of illness; community-acquired pneumonia; health-related quality of life; longitudinal study; patient-reported outcomes; symptoms.