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BMJ. 1998 Mar 14;316(7134):811-8.

Meta-analysis of short-term low dose prednisolone versus placebo and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in rheumatoid arthritis.

Author information

1
Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, Department 7112, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether short-term, oral low dose prednisolone (< or = 15 mg daily) is superior to placebo and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

DESIGN:

Meta-analysis of randomised trials of oral corticosteroids compared with placebo or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

SETTING:

Trials conducted anywhere in the world.

SUBJECTS:

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Joint tenderness, pain, and grip strength. Outcomes measured on different scales were combined by using the standardised effect size (difference in effect divided by SD of the measurements).

RESULTS:

Ten studies were included in the meta-analysis. Prednisolone had a marked effect over placebo on joint tenderness (standardised effect size 1.31; 95% confidence interval 0.78 to 1.83), pain (1.75; 0.87 to 2.64), and grip strength (0.41; 0.13 to 0.69). Measured in the original units the differences were 12 (6 to 18) tender joints and 22 mm Hg (5 mm Hg to 40 mm Hg) for grip strength. Prednisolone also had a greater effect than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on joint tenderness (0.63; 0.11 to 1.16) and pain (1.25; 0.26 to 2.24), whereas the difference in grip strength was not significant (0.31; -0.02 to 0.64). Measured in the original units the differences were 9 (5 to 12) tender joints and 12 mm Hg (-6 mm Hg to 31 mm Hg). The risk of adverse effects during moderate and long term use seemed acceptable.

CONCLUSION:

Prednisolone in low doses (< or = 15 mg daily) may be used intermittently in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if the disease cannot be controlled by other means.

PMID:
9549450
PMCID:
PMC28482
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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