Short- vs long-course antibiotic therapy for pneumonia: a comparison of systematic reviews and guidelines for the SIMI Choosing Wisely Campaign

Ludovico Furlan, Luca Erba, Lucia Trombetta, Roberto Sacco, Giorgio Colombo, Giovanni Casazza, Monica Solbiati, Nicola Montano, Chiara Marta, Rodolfo Sbrojavacca, Francesco Perticone, Gino Roberto Corazza, Giorgio Costantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reduction of the inappropriate use of antibiotics in clinical practice is one of the main goals of the Società Italiana di Medicina Interna (SIMI) choosing wisely campaign. We conducted a systematic review of secondary studies (systematic reviews and guidelines) to verify what evidence is available on the duration of antibiotic treatment in Pneumonia. A literature systematic search was performed to identify all systematic reviews and the three most cited and recent guidelines that address the duration of antibiotic therapy in pneumonia. Moreover, a meta-analysis of non-duplicate data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) considered in the enrolled systematic reviews was performed together with a trial sequential analysis to identify the need for further studies. Two systematic reviews on antibiotic duration in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) for a total of 17 RCTs (2764 patients) were enrolled in our study. Meta-analysis of non-duplicate RCTs show a non-significant difference in rate of treatment failure between short (≤ 7 days) and long (> 7 days) antibiotic treatment course: RR 1.05 (95% CI, 0.82-1.36). The trial sequential analysis suggests that further data would not affect current evidence or become clinically relevant. Selected guidelines suggest consideration of a short course, with a low grade of evidence and without citing the already published systematic reviews. Antibiotic treatment of CAP for ≤ 7 days is not associated with a higher rate of treatment failure than longer courses and should thus be taken in consideration. Guidelines should upgrade the evidence on this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-394
Number of pages18
JournalInternal and Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • *Antibiotic treatment
  • *Choosing wisely
  • *Guidelines
  • *Infection
  • *Pneumonia
  • *Systematic review
  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/*administration & dosage/therapeutic use
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship/methods/standards
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia/*drug therapy
  • *Time Factors


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