Send to

Choose Destination
Crit Care. 2011;15(1):R7. doi: 10.1186/cc9406. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Paradoxical ventilator associated pneumonia incidences among selective digestive decontamination studies versus other studies of mechanically ventilated patients: benchmarking the evidence base.

Author information

Rural Health Academic Centre, Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne, 'Dunvegan' 806 Mair St, Ballarat, Victoria 3350, Australia.



Selective digestive decontamination (SDD) appears to have a more compelling evidence base than non-antimicrobial methods for the prevention of ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP). However, the striking variability in ventilator associated pneumonia-incidence proportion (VAP-IP) among the SDD studies remains unexplained and a postulated contextual effect remains untested for.


Nine reviews were used to source 45 observational (benchmark) groups and 137 component (control and intervention) groups of studies of SDD and studies of three non-antimicrobial methods of VAP prevention. The logit VAP-IP data were summarized by meta-analysis using random effects methods and the associated heterogeneity (tau2) was measured. As group level predictors of logit VAP-IP, the mode of VAP diagnosis, proportion of trauma admissions, the proportion receiving prolonged ventilation and the intervention method under study were examined in meta-regression models containing the benchmark groups together with either the control (models 1 to 3) or intervention (models 4 to 6) groups of the prevention studies.


The VAP-IP benchmark derived here is 22.1% (95% confidence interval; 95% CI; 19.2 to 25.5; tau2 0.34) whereas the mean VAP-IP of control groups from studies of SDD and of non-antimicrobial methods, is 35.7 (29.7 to 41.8; tau2 0.63) versus 20.4 (17.2 to 24.0; tau2 0.41), respectively (P < 0.001). The disparity between the benchmark groups and the control groups of the SDD studies, which was most apparent for the highest quality studies, could not be explained in the meta-regression models after adjusting for various group level factors. The mean VAP-IP (95% CI) of intervention groups is 16.0 (12.6 to 20.3; tau2 0.59) and 17.1 (14.2 to 20.3; tau2 0.35) for SDD studies versus studies of non-antimicrobial methods, respectively.


The VAP-IP among the intervention groups within the SDD evidence base is less variable and more similar to the benchmark than among the control groups. These paradoxical observations cannot readily be explained. The interpretation of the SDD evidence base cannot proceed without further consideration of this contextual effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center