Optimal Duration of Systemic Corticosteroids in Coronavirus Disease 2019 Treatment: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background. Corticosteroids confer a survival benefit in individuals hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who require oxygen. This meta-analysis seeks to determine the duration of corticosteroids needed to optimize this mortality benefit. Methods. Electronic databases were searched to 9 March 2022, for studies reporting corticosteroid versus no corticosteroid treatment in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. We estimated the effect of corticosteroids on mortality by random-effects meta-analyses. Subgroup analyses and meta-analyses were conducted to assess the optimal duration of corticosteroid treatment while adjusting for the severity of disease, age, duration of symptoms, and proportion of control group given steroids. Results. We identified 27 eligible studies consisting of 13 404 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Seven randomized controlled trials and 20 observational studies were included in the meta-analysis of mortality, which suggested a protective association with corticosteroid therapy (risk ratio [RR], 0.71 [95% confidence interval {CI}, .58–.87]). Pooled analysis of 18 studies showed the greatest survival benefit for a treatment duration up to 6 days (RR, 0.54 [95% CI, .39–.74]). Survival benefit was 0.65 (95% CI, .51–.83) up to 7 days, and no additional survival benefit was observed beyond 7 days of treatment (RR, 0.64 [95% CI, .44–.93]). The survival benefit was not confounded by severity of disease, age, duration of symptoms, or proportion of control group given steroids. Conclusions. In this meta-analysis, optimal duration of corticosteroid treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients was up to 6 days, with no additional survival benefit with >7 days of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofad105
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases

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