Evidence-Based Study Design for Hospital-Acquired Bacterial Pneumonia and Ventilator-Associated Bacterial Pneumonia

J Infect Dis. 2019 Apr 19;219(10):1536-1544. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy578.


Background: The US Food and Drug Administration solicited evidence-based recommendations to improve guidance for studies of hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia (HABP) and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia (VABP).

Methods: We analyzed 7 HABP/VABP datasets to explore novel noninferiority study endpoints and designs, focusing on alternatives to all-cause mortality (ACM).

Results: ACM at day 28 differed for ventilated HABP (27.8%), VABP (18.0%), and nonventilated HABP (14.5%). A "mortality-plus" (ACM+) composite endpoint was constructed by combining ACM with patient-relevant, infection-related adverse events from the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities toxic/septic shock standardized query. The ACM+ rate was 3-10 percentage points above that of ACM across the studies and treatment groups. Predictors of higher ACM/ACM+ rates included older age and elevated acute physiology and chronic health evaluation (APACHE) II score. Only patients in the nonventilated HABP group were able to report pneumonia symptom changes.

Conclusions: If disease groups and patient characteristics in future studies produce an ACM rate so low (<10%-15%) that a fixed noninferiority margin of 10% cannot be justified (requiring an odds ratio analysis), an ACM+ endpoint could lower sample size. Enrichment of studies with patients with a higher severity of illness would increase ACM. Data on symptom resolution in nonventilated HABP support development of a patient-reported outcome instrument.

Keywords: all-cause mortality; hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia; mortality-plus endpoint; ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / drug therapy*
  • Research Design*
  • Treatment Outcome*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents