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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Intramuscular versus oral corticosteroids to reduce relapses following discharge from the emergency department for acute asthma

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2018
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (80th percentile)

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Intramuscular versus oral corticosteroids to reduce relapses following discharge from the emergency department for acute asthma
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd012629.pub2
Pubmed ID

Scott W Kirkland, Elfriede Cross, Sandra Campbell, Cristina Villa-Roel, Brian H Rowe


Acute asthma is a common cause of presentations to acute care centres, such as the emergency department (ED), and while the majority of patients can be discharged, relapse requiring additional medical care is common. Systemic corticosteroids are a major part in the treatment of moderate to severe acute asthma; however, there is no clear evidence regarding the most effective route of administration for improving outcomes in patients discharged from acute care. To examine the effectiveness and safety of a single dose of intramuscular (IM) corticosteroids provided prior to discharge compared to a short course of oral corticosteroids in the treatment of acute asthma patients discharged from an ED or equivalent acute care setting. The Cochrane Airways Group conducted searches of the Cochrane Airways Group Register of Trials, most recently on 14 March 2018. In addition in April 2017 we completed an extensive search of nine electronic databases including Medline, Embase, EBM ALL, Global Health, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, CINAHL, SCOPUS, Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global, and LILACS. Furthermore, we searched the grey literature to identify any additional studies. We included randomized controlled trials or controlled clinical trials if they compared the effectiveness of intramuscular (IM) versus oral corticosteroids to treat paediatric or adult patients presenting with acute asthma to an ED or equivalent acute care setting. Two independent reviewers assessed study eligibility and study quality. We resolved disagreements via a third party and assessed risk of bias using the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool. We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE. For dichotomous outcomes, we calculated individual and pooled statistics as risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using a random-effects model. We reported continuous outcomes using mean difference (MD) or standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% CIs using a random-effects model. We reported heterogeneity using I² and Cochran Q statistics. We used standard procedures recommended by Cochrane. Nine studies involving 804 participants (IM = 402 participants; oral = 402 participants) met our review inclusion criteria. Four studies enrolled children (n = 245 participants), while five studies enrolled adults (n = 559 participants). All of the studies recruited participants presenting to an ED, except one study which recruited participants attending a primary care clinic. All of the paediatric studies compared intramuscular (IM) dexamethasone to oral prednisone/prednisolone. In the adult studies, the IM corticosteroid provided ranged from methylprednisolone, betamethasone, dexamethasone, or triamcinolone, while the regimen of oral corticosteroids provided consisted of prednisone, methylprednisolone, or dexamethasone. Only five studies were placebo controlled. For the purposes of this review, we did not take corticosteroid dose equivalency into account in the analysis. The most common co-intervention provided to participants during the acute care visit included short-acting beta₂-agonists (SABA), methylxanthines, and ipratropium bromide. In some instances, some studies reported providing some participants with supplemental oral or IV corticosteroids during their stay in the ED. Co-interventions provided to participants at discharge consisted primarily of SABA, methylxanthine, long-acting beta₂-agonists (LABA), and ipratropium bromide. The risk of bias of the included studies ranged from unclear to high across various domains. The primary outcome of interest was relapse to additional care defined as an unscheduled visit to a health practitioner for worsening asthma symptoms, or requiring subsequent treatment with corticosteroids which may have occurred at any time point after discharge from the ED.We found intramuscular and oral corticosteroids to be similarly effective in reducing the risk for relapse (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.24; 9 studies, 804 participants; I² = 0%; low-quality evidence). We found no subgroup differences in relapse rates between paediatric and adult participants (P = 0.71), relapse occurring within or after 10 days post-discharge (P = 0.22), or participants with mild/moderate or severe exacerbations (P = 0.35). While we found no statistical difference between participants receiving IM versus oral corticosteroids regarding the risk for adverse events (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.64 to 1.07; 5 studies, 404 participants; I² = 0%; moderate-quality evidence), an estimated 50 fewer patients per 1000 receiving IM corticosteroids reported experiencing adverse events (95% from 106 fewer to 21 more). We found inconsistent reporting of specific adverse events across the studies. There were no differences in the frequency of specific adverse events including nausea and vomiting, pain, swelling, redness, insomnia, or personality changes. We did not seek additional adverse events data.Participants receiving IM corticosteroids or oral corticosteroids both reported decreases in peak expiratory flow (MD -7.78 L/min, 95% CI -38.83 L/min to 23.28 L/min; 4 studies, 272 participants; I² = 33%; moderate-quality evidence), similar symptom persistence (RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.14 to 1.20; 3 studies, 80 participants; I² = 44%; low-quality evidence), and 24-hour beta-agonist use (RR 0.54, 95% CI 0.21 to 1.37; 2 studies, 48 participants; I² = 0%; low-quality evidence). There is insufficient evidence to identify whether IM corticosteroids are more effective in reducing relapse compared to oral corticosteroids among children or adults discharged from an ED or equivalent acute care setting for acute asthma. While we found no statistical differences, patients receiving IM corticosteroids reported fewer adverse events. Additional studies comparing the effectiveness of IM versus oral corticosteroids could provide further evidence clarity. Furthermore, there is a need for studies comparing different IM corticosteroids (e.g. IM dexamethasone versus IM methylprednisone) and different oral corticosteroids (e.g. oral dexamethasone versus oral prednisone), with consideration for dosing and pharmacokinetic properties, to better identify the optimal IM or oral corticosteroid regimens to improve patient outcomes. Other factors, such as patient preference and potential issues with adherence, may dictate practitioner prescribing.

X Demographics

X Demographics

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Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 370 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 370 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 47 13%
Student > Bachelor 44 12%
Researcher 30 8%
Other 29 8%
Student > Ph. D. Student 23 6%
Other 49 13%
Unknown 148 40%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 100 27%
Nursing and Health Professions 39 11%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 16 4%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 11 3%
Psychology 11 3%
Other 29 8%
Unknown 164 44%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 53. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 20 December 2023.
All research outputs
of 25,287,709 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 13,048 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 337,041 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 183 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,287,709 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 13,048 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 35.6. This one has done well, scoring higher than 88% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 337,041 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 183 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 80% of its contemporaries.