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Prone positioning in awake patients without ventilatory support does not alter major clinical outcomes in severe COVID-19: results from a retrospective observational cohort study, systematic review and meta-analysis.

OBJECTIVES: During the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, clinicians recommended awake-prone positioning (APP) to avoid the worst outcomes. The objectives of this study were to investigate if APP reduces intubation, death rates and hospital length of stay (HLOS) in acute COVID-19.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort with non-mechanically ventilated patients hospitalized in a reference center in Manaus, Brazil, 2020. Participants were stratified into APP and awake-not-prone positioning (ANPP) groups. Also, we conducted a systematic review and performed a meta-analysis to understand if this intervention had different outcomes in resource-limited settings (PROSPERO CRD42023422452).

RESULTS: A total of 115 participants were allocated into the groups. There was no statistical difference between both groups regarding time to intubation (HR: 0.861; 95 CI: 0.474-1.1562; p  = 0.622) and time to death (HR: 1.666; 95 CI: 0.939-2.951; p  = 0.081). APP was not significantly associated with reduced HLOS. A total of 86 articles were included in the systematic review, of which 76 (88,3%) show similar findings after APP. Also, low/middle, and high-income countries were similar regarding such outcomes.

CONCLUSION: APP in COVID-19 does not present clinical improvement that affects mortality, intubation rate and HLOS. The lack of a prone position protocol, obtained through a controlled study is necessary. After 3 years, APP benefits are still inconclusive.

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