Principal Component Patterns of Pediatric Respiratory Viral Testing Across Health Care Settings

Hosp Pediatr. 2024 Feb 1;14(2):126-136. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2023-007389.


Background and objectives: Factors prompting clinicians to request viral testing in children are unclear. We assessed patterns prompting clinicians to perform viral testing in children discharged from an emergency department (ED) or hospitalized with an acute respiratory infection (ARI).

Methods: Using active ARI surveillance data collected from November 2017 through February 2020, children aged between 30 days and 17 years with fever or respiratory symptoms who had a research respiratory specimen tested were included. Children's presentation patterns from their initial evaluation at each health care setting were analyzed using principal components (PCs) analysis. PC-specific models using logistic regression with robust sandwich estimators were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) between PCs and provider-ordered viral testing. PCs were assigned respiratory virus/viruses names a priori based on the patterns represented.

Results: In total, 4107 children were enrolled and tested, with 2616 (64%) discharged from the ED and 1491 (36%) hospitalized. In the ED, children with a coviral presentation pattern had a 1.44-fold (95% CI, 1.24-1.68) increased odds of receiving a provider-ordered viral test than children showing clinical symptoms less representative of coviral-like infection. Whereas children in the ED and hospitalized with rhinovirus-like symptoms had 71% (OR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.24-0.34) and 39% (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.49-0.76) decreased odds, respectively, of receiving a provider-ordered viral test during their medical encounter.

Conclusions: Viral tests are frequently ordered by clinicians, but presentation patterns vary by setting and influence the initiation of testing. Additional assessments of factors affecting provider decisions to use viral testing in pediatric ARI management are needed to maximize patient benefits of testing.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Enterovirus Infections*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Viruses*