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Background.: Chest radiographs (CXRs) are a valuable diagnostic tool in epidemiologic studies of pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) methodology for the interpretation of pediatric CXRs has not been evaluated beyond its intended application as an endpoint measure for bacterial vaccine trials. Methods.: The Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) study enrolled children aged 1-59 months hospitalized with WHO-defined severe and very severe pneumonia from 7 low- and middle-income countries. An interpretation process categorized each CXR into 1 of 5 conclusions: consolidation, other infiltrate, both consolidation and other infiltrate, normal, or uninterpretable. Two members of a 14-person reading panel, who had undertaken training and standardization in CXR interpretation, interpreted each CXR. Two members of an arbitration panel provided additional independent reviews of CXRs with discordant interpretations at the primary reading, blinded to previous reports. Further discordance was resolved with consensus discussion. Results.: A total of 4172 CXRs were obtained from 4232 cases. Observed agreement for detecting consolidation (with or without other infiltrate) between primary readers was 78% (κ = 0.50) and between arbitrators was 84% (κ = 0.61); agreement for primary readers and arbitrators across 5 conclusion categories was 43.5% (κ = 0.25) and 48.5% (κ = 0.32), respectively. Disagreement was most frequent between conclusions of other infiltrate and normal for both the reading panel and the arbitration panel (32% and 30% of discordant CXRs, respectively). Conclusions.: Agreement was similar to that of previous evaluations using the WHO methodology for detecting consolidation, but poor for other infiltrates despite attempts at a rigorous standardization process.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Infect Dis

Publication Date





S253 - S261


chest radiograph, diagnosis., observer variation, pediatrics, pneumonia, Child, Preschool, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Infant, Male, Pneumonia, Radiography, Thoracic, Reference Standards, World Health Organization