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Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Dec;97(52):e13840. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000013840.

Traditional Chinese medicine for post-stroke depression: A systematic review and network meta-analysis (Protocol).

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Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai.
Lanzhou University, Centre of Evidence Based Medicine, Lanzhou City, Gansu, China.



Post-stroke depression (PSD) is common in stroke survivors, with significantly negative effects and serious impairments in terms of personal and social functioning. While both pharmacological and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) interventions have been administered for PSD, there is still uncertainty about the balance between these and what treatment strategy should be preferred in clinical practice. Therefore, we aim to compare and rank, describing the protocol of a systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA), the commonly used TCM interventions for PSD.


We will search CENTRAL (the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials), CINAHL, Embase, PubMed, CBM and PsycINFO, the US National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organisation International Trials Registry Platform search portal from inception to November 2018. There will be no restrictions on language, publication year or publication type. Only randomized clinical trials (RCTs) accessing any TCM treatments against active comparator or other controls for PSD will be included. The primary outcomes will be efficacy (the total number of participants, declining more than 50% on the total score between baseline) and acceptability of treatment (dropout rate due to any cause). A Bayesian NMA will be performed to compare all relative outcome of different TCM interventions. we will conduct the network meta-regression meta-analyses of data on the sex ratio, the types of stroke and the treatment duration of TCM interventions. Potential explanations in extra subgroup analyses according to the results of heterogeneity and inconsistency will be explored, and sensitivity analyses will be conducted to assess the robustness of the findings.


PROSPERO CRD42018082400.


Our study will generate evidence for TCM in the treatment of PSD and help to reduce the uncertainty about the effectiveness of PSD management, which will encourage further suggestions for TCM clinical practice or guideline.

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