Improvements in adherence were not consistently translated into observable benefit for clinical outcomes in our pooled analyses. None of the intervention types showed clear benefit for our primary clinical outcomes - exacerbations requiring an oral corticosteroid (OCS) (evidence of very low to low quality) and asthma control (evidence of low to moderate quality); nor for our secondary outcomes - unscheduled visits (evidence of very low to moderate quality) and quality of life (evidence of low to moderate quality). However, some individual studies reported observed benefits for OCS and use of healthcare services. Most school or work absence data were skewed and were difficult to interpret (evidence of low quality, when graded), and most studies did not specifically measure or report adverse events.
During conventional pharmacologic dose corticosteroid therapy, ACTH production is inhibited with subsequent suppression of cortisol production by the adrenal cortex. Recovery time for normal HPA activity is variable depending upon the dose and duration of treatment. During this time the patient is vulnerable to any stressful situation. Although it has been shown that there is considerably less adrenal suppression following a single morning dose of prednisolone (10 mg) as opposed to a quarter of that dose administered every six hours, there is evidence that some suppressive effect on adrenal activity may be carried over into the following day when pharmacologic doses are used. Further, it has been shown that a single dose of certain corticosteroids will produce adrenal cortical suppression for two or more days. Other corticoids, including methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, and prednisolone, are considered to be short acting (producing adrenal cortical suppression for 1¼ to 1½ days following a single dose) and thus are recommended for alternate day therapy.
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