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Adjunctive intravenous corticosteroid treatment has been shown to reduce length of stay (LOS) in adults hospitalised with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). We aimed to assess the effect of oral dexamethasone on LOS and whether this effect is disease severity dependent. In this multicentre, stratified randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, immunocompetent adults with CAP were randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to receive oral dexamethasone (6 mg once daily) or placebo for 4 days in four teaching hospitals in the Netherlands. Randomisation (blocks of four) was stratified by CAP severity (pneumonia severity index class I-III and IV-V). The primary outcome was LOS. Between December 2012 and November 2018, 401 patients were randomised to receive dexamethasone (n=203) or placebo (n=198). Median LOS was shorter in the dexamethasone group (4.5 days, 95% CI 4.0-5.0 days) than in the placebo group (5.0 days, 95% CI 4.6-5.4 days; p=0.033). Within both CAP severity subgroups, differences in LOS between treatment groups were not statistically significant. The secondary ICU admission rate was lower in the dexamethasone arm (5 (3%) versus 14 (7%); p=0.030); 30-day mortality did not differ between groups. In the dexamethasone group the rate of hospital readmission tended to be higher (20 (10%) versus 9 (5%); p=0.051) and hyperglycaemia (14 (7%) versus 1 (1%); p=0.001) was more prevalent. Oral dexamethasone reduced LOS and ICU admission rate in adults hospitalised with CAP. It remains unclear for which patients the risk-benefit ratio is optimal. Copyright ©The authors 2021. For reproduction rights and permissions contact


Esther Wittermans, Stefan M T Vestjens, Simone M C Spoorenberg, Willem L Blok, Jan C Grutters, Rob Janssen, Ger T Rijkers, Frank W J M Smeenk, G Paul Voorn, Ewoudt M W van de Garde, Willem Jan W Bos, Santeon-CAP Study Group, Members of the Santeon-CAP Study Group. Adjunctive treatment with oral dexamethasone in non-ICU patients hospitalised with community-acquired pneumonia: a randomised clinical trial. The European respiratory journal. 2021 Aug;58(2)

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PMID: 33446608

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