Healthcare resource utilization and costs associated with incremental systemic corticosteroid exposure in asthma

Allergy. 2019 Feb;74(2):273-283. doi: 10.1111/all.13556. Epub 2018 Nov 20.


Background: Although systemic corticosteroid (SCS) treatment, irrespective of duration or dosage, is associated with adverse outcomes for patients with asthma, the longitudinal effects of this treatment on adverse outcomes, healthcare resource utilization (HCRU), and healthcare costs are unknown.

Methods: We identified patients initiating intermittent or long-term SCS who were diagnosed with active asthma from UK general practice with linked secondary care data. Control (non-SCS) patients were matched by sex and index date with those initiating SCS. Minimum baseline period was 1 year prior to index date; minimum follow-up duration was 2 years post-index date. Cumulative incidence of SCS-associated adverse outcomes and associated HCRU and costs were compared between SCS and non-SCS patient groups and among average SCS daily exposure categories. Associations between exposure and annualized HCRU and costs were assessed, adjusted for confounders.

Results: Analyses included 9413 matched pairs. Median (interquartile range) follow up was as follows: SCS group: 7.1 (4.1-11.8) years; control group: 6.4 (3.8-10.0) years. Greater SCS dosages were correlated with greater cumulative incidence. For example, patients with type 2 diabetes receiving an average daily dosage of ≥7.5 mg had a 15-year cumulative incidence (37.5%) that was 1.5-5 times greater than those receiving lower dosages. HCRU and costs increased annually for SCS patients but not for non-SCS patients. Increases in all-cause adverse outcome (excluding asthma)-associated HCRU and costs were dose-dependent.

Conclusions: Over the long term, adverse outcomes associated with SCS initiation were relatively frequent and costly, with a positive dosage-response relationship with SCS exposure.

Keywords: adverse outcomes; asthma; healthcare costs; healthcare resource utilization; systemic corticosteroids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones* / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Resources*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones