Comparing the efficacy of corticosteroids among patients with community-acquired pneumonia in the ICU versus non-ICU settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Steroids. 2024 May:205:109389. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2024.109389. Epub 2024 Feb 13.


Background: Despite the potential of corticosteroids in treating community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), conflicting evidence exists regarding their effect on mortality. To address this gap and provide new insights, we conducted a pre-specified subgroup meta-analysis of corticosteroid use in CAP patients, focusing on the ICU versus non-ICU subsets.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and SCOPUS from inception to May 2023 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The primary outcomes of interest were mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, need for ICU admission, and treatment failure. Secondary outcomes analysed were the need for hospital readmission, length of hospital stay, length of ICU stay, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, secondary infections, and hyperglycaemic events. The results were analysed through the random-effects model. A p-value < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results: Eighteen randomized controlled trials (n = 4472) analyzing patients withCAP were included. Our results suggest that corticosteroids significantly reduced the incidence of mortality (RR: 0.66; 95 % CI: 0.54, 0.81; P = <0.0001) and need for mechanical ventilation (RR: 0.57; 95 % CI: 0.44, 0.73; P = <0.00001). It was also observed that corticosteroids significantly decrease the lengths of ICU (MD: -1.67; 95 % CI: -2.97, -0.37; P = 0.01) and hospital stay (MD: -1.94; 95 % CI: -2.89, -0.98; P = 0.0001), while increasing the number of hyperglycemic events (RR: 1.68; 95 % CI: 1.32, 2.12; P = <0.0001) and hospital readmissions (RR: 1.19; 95 % CI: 1.04, 1.37; P = 0.01).

Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis demonstrate that corticosteroids yield improved outcomes in CAP patients with regard to reduced mortality and the need for mechanical ventilation. It highlights the need for further large-scale RCTs with the proposed, specific stratifications.

Keywords: Community-acquired pneumonia; Corticosteroids; Intensive-care unit; Mechanical ventilation; Meta-analysis; Mortality.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay
  • Pneumonia* / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia* / epidemiology
  • Respiration, Artificial


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones