Article Text

Value of severity scales in predicting mortality from community-acquired pneumonia: systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Yoon K Loke1,2,
  2. Chun Shing Kwok1,
  3. Alagaratnam Niruban2,
  4. Phyo K Myint1,2
  1. 1School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, UK
  2. 2Directorate of Medicine, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, Norfolk, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yoon K Loke, School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, Chancellors Drive, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK; y.loke{at}


Background Several scoring systems have been used to predict mortality in patients with community-acquired pneumonia. The properties of commonly used risk stratification scales were systematically reviewed.

Methods MEDLINE and EMBASE (January 1999–October 2009) were searched for prospective studies that reported mortality at 4–8 weeks in patients with radiographically-confirmed community-acquired pneumonia. The search focused on the Pneumonia Severity Index (PSI) and the three main iterations of the CURB (confusion, urea nitrogen, respiratory rate, blood pressure) scale (CURB-65, CURB, CRB-65), and test performance was evaluated based on ‘higher risk’ categories as follows: PSI class IV/V, CURB-65 (score ≥3), CURB (score ≥2) and CRB-65 (score ≥2). Random effects meta-analysis was used to generate summary statistics of test performance and receiver operating characteristic curves were used for predicting mortality.

Results 402 articles were screened and 23 studies involving 22 753 participants (average mortality 7.4%) were retrieved. The respective diagnostic odds ratios for mortality were 10.77 (PSI), 6.40 (CURB-65), 5.97 (CRB-65) and 5.75 (CURB). Overall, PSI had the highest sensitivity and lowest specificity for mortality, CRB-65 was the most specific (but least sensitive) test and CURB-65/CURB were between the two. Negative predictive values for mortality were similar among the tests, ranging from 0.94 (CRB-65) to 0.98 (PSI), whereas positive predictive values ranged from 0.14 (PSI) to 0.28 (CRB-65).

Conclusions The current risk stratification scales (PSI, CURB-65, CRB-65 and CURB) have different strengths and weaknesses. All four scales had good negative predictive values for mortality in populations with a low prevalence of death but were less useful with regard to positive predictive values.

  • Clinical epidemiology
  • respiratory infection

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Supplementary materials

  • Web Only Data thx.2009.134072

    Files in this Data Supplement:


  • Linked articles 143297, 133280.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles