Following traumatic brain injury (TBI) there is an increased prevalence of depression compared to the general population. It is unknown whether non-pharmacological interventions for depression are effective for people with TBI.
To investigate the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for depression in adults and children with TBI at reducing the diagnosis and severity of symptoms of depression.
We ran the most recent search on 11 February 2015. We searched the Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (OvidSP), Embase (OvidSP), three other databases and clinical trials registers. Relevant conference proceedings and journals were handsearched, as were the reference lists of identified studies.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of non-pharmacological interventions for depression in adults and children who had a TBI.
Data collection and analysis:
Two authors independently selected trials from the search results, then assessed risk of bias and extracted data from the included trials. The authors contacted trial investigators to obtain missing information. We rated the overall quality of the evidence of the primary outcomes using the GRADE approach.
Six studies met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 334 adult participants. We identified no studies that included children as participants. All studies were affected by high risk of bias due to a lack of blinding of participants and personnel; five studies were affected by high risk of bias for lack of blinding of outcome assessors. There was high or unclear risk of biases affecting some studies across all the Cochrane risk of bias measures.Three studies compared a psychological intervention (either cognitive behaviour therapy or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) with a control intervention. Data regarding depression symptom outcome measures were combined in a meta-analysis, but did not find an effect in favour of treatment (SMD -0.14; 95% CI -0.47 to 0.19; Z = 0.83; P = 0.41). The other comparisons comprised of single studies of depression symptoms and compared; cognitive behaviour therapy versus supportive psychotherapy (SMD -0.09; 95% CI -0.65 to 0.48; Z = 0.30; P = 0.77); repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation plus tricyclic antidepressant (rTMS + TCA) versus tricyclic antidepressant alone (SMD -0.84; 95% CI -1.36 to -0.32; Z = 3;19, P = 0.001); and a supervised exercise program versus exercise as usual (SMD -0.43; 95% CI -0.88 to 0.03; Z = 1.84; P = 0.07). There was very-low quality evidence, small effect sizes and wide variability of results, suggesting that no comparisons showed a reliable effect for any intervention.Only one study mentioned minor, transient adverse events from repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
The review did not find compelling evidence in favour of any intervention. Future studies should focus on participants with a diagnosed TBI and include only participants who have a diagnosis of depression, or who record scores above a clinical cutoff on a depression measure. There is a need for additional RCTs that include a comparison between an intervention and a control that replicates the effect of the attention given to participants during an active treatment.
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