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Systemic glucocorticoid use in Denmark: a population-based prevalence study
  1. Kristina Laugesen1,
  2. Jens Otto Lunde Jørgensen2,
  3. Henrik Toft Sørensen1,
  4. Irene Petersen1,3
  1. 1Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
  3. 3Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Kristina Laugesen; kristina.laugesen{at}


Objectives Glucocorticoid (GC) use is widespread and associated with many adverse effects. Thus, it is important to ascertain GC utilisation patterns. In this study, we examined the annual prevalence of prescription users and amount of use of systemic GCs.

Design Population-wide prevalence study.

Setting The primary healthcare and hospital sectors in Denmark from 1999 to 2015.

Results Approximately 3% of the Danish population redeemed at least one prescription for a systemic GC annually between 1999 and 2015, with annual prevalence remaining constant over the period. However, after adjusting for age and sex, we observed a decrease in annual prevalence from 1999 to 2015, with a prevalence ratio of 0.92 (95% CI 0.91 to 0.92). Annual prevalence was highest among the elderly (7.0%–8.2% among persons 65–79 years of age and 8.4%–10% among persons 80+ years of age). Prednisolone was the most frequently redeemed systemic GC, with annual prevalence increasing from 1.4% to 2.1% during the 1999–2015 period. The amount of systemic GCs provided to the hospital sector increased from 2.3 defined daily doses (DDD)/1000 inhabitants/day in 1999 to 3.5 DDD/1000 inhabitants/day in 2015, while the amount provided to the primary healthcare sector remained constant in the range of 10–11 DDD/1000 inhabitants/day.

Conclusion We found a high prevalence of systemic GC use of 3% with a remarkably high prevalence in elderly of up to 10%, wherefore continued awareness of its effects is mandated.

  • Glucocorticoids
  • Denmark
  • Prevalence
  • Drug utilisation

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors KL, IP, JOLJ and HTS made primary contributions to the study conception and wrote the manuscript. KL extracted results from Medstat ( and performed statistical analyses. KL, IP, JOLJ and HTS contributed to the interpretation of results and revised the manuscript critically. All authors approved the final manuscript. KL is the guarantor for this study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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