Corticosteroid-induced diabetes in palliative care

Jana Pilkey, Lisa Streeter, Alexandra Beel, Timothy Hiebert, Xuan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Corticosteroids are one of the most commonly used medications in palliative care. Although the benefit of corticosteroids generally outweighs the risk in the palliative population, side effects are common and necessitate careful consideration prior to prescribing. In March of 2010, a guideline for monitoring blood glucose values was implemented as part of our standard care within our two inpatient tertiary palliative care units. Method: A retrospective study was conducted, the aim of which was twofold. First, we hoped to determine a prevalence rate for steroid-induced diabetes mellitus (SDM) in palliative care and whether or not screening glucose levels twice weekly was appropriate or required. Second, we wanted to determine if possible predictors existed for the development of SDM in a palliative population, thereby identifying the patients most at risk who would benefit from ongoing glucose monitoring. Results and discussion: We found that SDM is more common in palliative care patients than previously thought. Our study showed a higher likelihood of developing hyperglycaemia with higher doses of dexamethasone. But although dose is correlated with hyperglycemia, patients without high doses were also at risk. Further study is currently underway with slight modifications to the guideline to more accurately assess the physical burden, as well as the emotional and financial cost of a hyperglycemia screening protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-689
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


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