Effect of Corticosteroid Therapy on Influenza-Related Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.


Rodrigo C1, Leonardi-Bee J2, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS2, Lim WS1.
J Infect Dis. 2015 Jul 15;212(2):183-94.



Most studies have reported that corticosteroid therapy adversely influences influenza-related outcomes.


Electronic databases were searched from inception to March 2013 for experimental and observational studies investigating systemiccorticosteroid therapy for presumed influenza-associated complications. Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines were adopted. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using random-effects models, and heterogeneity was assessed using the I(2) statistic. Quality of evidence was assessed using the Grading Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system.


We identified 16 eligible studies (3039 individuals), all of which were observational; 10 (1497 individuals) were included in the meta-analysis of mortality, of which 9 studied patients with 2009 pandemic influenza A virus subtype H1N1. Risk of bias was greatest in the comparability domain of the Newcastle-Ottawa scale, consistent with potential confounding by indication, and data specific to mortality were of low quality. Meta-analysis found an increased odds of mortality (OR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.36-3.29) associated with corticosteroid therapy. Subgroup analysis of adjusted estimates from 4 studies with very low statistical heterogeneity found a similar association (OR, 2.58; 95% CI, 1.39-4.79).


No completed clinical trials were identified. Evidence from observational studies, with important limitations, suggests thatcorticosteroid therapy for presumed influenza-associated complications is associated with increased mortality.