Prognostic factors for severe and recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection: a systematic review

Tessel M. van Rossen, Rogier E. Ooijevaar, Christina M. J. E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, Olaf M. Dekkers, Ed J. Kuijper, Josbert J. Keller, Joffrey van Prehn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI), its subsequent recurrences (rCDIs), and severe CDI (sCDI) provide a significant burden for both patients and the healthcare system. Identifying patients diagnosed with initial CDI who are at increased risk of developing sCDI/rCDI could lead to more cost-effective therapeutic choices. In this systematic review we aimed to identify clinical prognostic factors associated with an increased risk of developing sCDI or rCDI. Methods: PubMed, Embase, Emcare, Web of Science and COCHRANE Library databases were searched from database inception through March, 2021. The study eligibility criteria were cohort and case–control studies. Participants were patients ≥18 years old diagnosed with CDI, in which clinical or laboratory factors were analysed to predict sCDI/rCDI. Risk of bias was assessed by using the Quality in Prognostic Research (QUIPS) tool and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool modified for prognostic studies. Study selection was performed by two independent reviewers. Overview tables of prognostic factors were constructed to assess the number of studies and the respective effect direction and statistical significance of an association. Results: 136 studies were included for final analysis. Greater age and the presence of multiple comorbidities were prognostic factors for sCDI. Identified risk factors for rCDI were greater age, healthcare-associated CDI, prior hospitalization, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) started during or after CDI diagnosis, and previous rCDI. Conclusions: Prognostic factors for sCDI and rCDI could aid clinicians to make treatment decisions based on risk stratification. We suggest that future studies use standardized definitions for sCDI/rCDI and systematically collect and report the risk factors assessed in this review, to allow for meaningful meta-analysis of risk factors using data of high-quality trials.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Clostridioides difficile
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Prediction
  • Prognostic factors
  • Systematic review

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