Clinical factors associated with the use of dexamethasone for asthma in the pediatric emergency department

Amy M. DeLaroche, Fabrice Mowbray, Sarah J. Parker, Yagnaram Ravichandran, Aaron Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Dexamethasone is efficacious for the treatment of pediatric asthma exacerbations but is not specifically recommended by current national guidelines. Objectives: To describe the factors associated with prescribed dexamethasone in a pediatric emergency department (PED) and upon patient discharge. Methods: Retrospective chart review of patients aged 2 to 18 years discharged home from a PED with a diagnostic code for asthma (J45x). Descriptive statistics are reported and binary logistic regression with generalized estimating equations was used to examine the demographic and clinical factors associated with dexamethasone use in the PED and upon discharge. Results: 594 children contributed 690 visits for asthma. Two-thirds of patients received prednisone in the PED (n = 430; 62%). Among 260 children who received dexamethasone, 76% (n = 198) were prescribed a second dose for post-discharge administration. Multivariable models showed that patients triaged as most urgent had a 50% reduction in the odds of receiving dexamethasone in the PED (OR = 0.5; 95% CI = 0.28–0.87). Patients seen by a pediatrician (OR 4.2; 95%CI 2.1–8.3) and those triaged as urgent (OR 2.9; 95% CI = 1.8–7.8) were more likely to receive a single dose of dexamethasone. Conclusions: Dexamethasone is less commonly used in the PED for asthmatic patients triaged as most urgent. Triage acuity and level of training were associated with single-dose treatment of asthma in those receiving dexamethasone. Further studies are needed to clarify the use of dexamethasone across the spectrum of asthma severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1581-1588
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2021


  • Asthma exacerbation
  • dexamethasone
  • pediatric emergency department
  • prednisone


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