Efficacy and Safety of Corticosteroid Therapy for Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression of Randomized, Controlled Trials

Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Dec 15;77(12):1704-1713. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad496.


Background: Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is associated with high morbidity and mortality. In the present study, we aimed to assess the effect of corticosteroids on all-cause mortality in patients hospitalized with CAP.

Methods: For this meta-analysis and meta-regression, we conducted a systematic search of trials that evaluated the effect of corticosteroid therapy in patients hospitalized with CAP through March 2023. We included randomized, controlled trials, comparing adjunctive corticosteroid therapy with the standard of care alone for treatment of patients hospitalized with CAP and reporting all-cause mortality. We excluded retrospective analyses, observational data, and trial protocols. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality within 30 days after hospital admission. The safety analysis included the frequency of adverse events and steroid-associated adverse events.

Results: The literature search identified 35 713 citations, of which 15 studies and 3367 patients were eligible for the final analysis. The all-cause mortality at 30 days was significantly lower in the corticosteroid group (104 of 1690, 6.15%) than in the control group (152 of 1677, 9.06%; risk ratio [RR], 0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], .53 to .85; P = .001; I2 = 0%). In 9 studies (2549 patients) that reported the occurrence of adverse events, corticosteroid therapy was not associated with an increased risk of developing any adverse event compared with standard care (RR, 0.90; 95% CI, .65 to 1.24; P = .5; I2 = 88%).

Conclusions: Adjunctive systemic corticosteroid therapy in patients hospitalized with CAP was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality by day 30. The benefits were more pronounced in patients with severe pneumonia.

Keywords: CAP; glucocorticoid; prednisolone; respiratory; steroid.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Community-Acquired Infections* / drug therapy
  • Community-Acquired Infections* / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia* / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones