A Systematic Review of Tools to Measure Respiratory Rate in Order to Identify Childhood Pneumonia

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Abstract

Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children worldwide, with most deaths occurring in developing countries. Measuring respiratory rate is critical to the World Health Organization's guidelines for diagnosing childhood pneumonia in low-resource settings, yet it is difficult to accurately measure. We conducted a systematic review to landscape existing respiratory rate measurement technologies. We searched PubMed, Embase, and Compendex for studies published through September 2017 assessing the accuracy of respiratory rate measurement technologies in children. We identified 16 studies: 2 describing manual devices and 14 describing automated devices. Although both studies describing manual devices took place in low-resource settings, all studies describing automated devices were conducted in well-resourced settings. Direct comparison between studies was complicated by small sample size, absence of a consistent reference standard, and variations in comparison methodology. There is an urgent need for affordable and appropriate innovations that can reliably measure a child's respiratory rate in low-resource settings. Accelerating development or scale-up of these technologies could have the potential to advance childhood pneumonia diagnosis worldwide.

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