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Prevalence of and Outcomes Associated with Corticosteroid Prescription in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Targownik, Laura E. MD, MSHS; Nugent, Zoann PhD; Singh, Harminder MD, MPH; Bernstein, Charles N. MD

doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000008
Original Clinical Articles

Background: Corticosteroids are widely used in the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and are associated with significant side effects. The real world effectiveness of newer drug therapies at reducing corticosteroid use is yet to be reported. The overall burden of corticosteroid use is poorly characterized.

Methods: We used a population-based IBD database to evaluate the overall prevalence of corticosteroid exposure, corticosteroid-free survival, and heavy corticosteroid use (≥3000 mg of prednisone or equivalent in a 365-day period). Regression models were used to assess predictors of heavy corticosteroid use and the relationship between corticosteroid dose in the first year after diagnosis and the need for continued corticosteroid use and surgery.

Results: The proportion of persons with IBD prescribed corticosteroids within 1, 5, and 10 years of diagnosis was 35.2%, 52.0%, and 62.8%, respectively. Persons with ulcerative colitis, males, and diagnosis before age 25 were more likely to use corticosteroids and have higher cumulative exposure. Heavy corticosteroid use in the first year after IBD diagnosis was associated with a 3 times increased hazard of resective surgery. Cumulative corticosteroid exposure did not decrease among those diagnosed with IBD in more recent years, despite increasing use of immunomodulators.

Conclusions: A plurality of IBD patients will be exposed to corticosteroids over the course of disease, mostly in the first year. Heavy corticosteroid use in the first year of IBD is a strong predictor of subsequent surgery. Cumulative exposure to corticosteroids use is not decreasing despite increasing uptake of immunomodulators.

Article first published online 27 February 2014Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.

Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, and IBD Clinical and Research Centre, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Reprints: Laura E. Targownik, MD, MSHS, 805G-715, McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P4, Canada (e-mail:

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supported by a CIHR New Investigator Award in Osteoporosis (Targownik), the University of Manitoba Bingham Chair in Gastroenterology (Berrnstein), and an ACG Career Development Award (Singh).

Received December 24, 2013

Accepted January 22, 2014

© Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
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