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Background: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy is effective for post-stroke depression (PSD). TCM therapy encompasses various forms of practices. However, the comparative effectiveness of these therapies is still not clear. Here, we provide a network meta-analysis protocol to compare the effects of different types of TCM therapy on PSD, using both direct and indirect evidence.

Methods: Twelve databases investigation will be conducted through the keywords from their inception to June 1, 2019. At least 2 independent reviewers will identify eligible articles. EndNote X7 software is utilized to manage the literatures and RevMan V.5.3 (The Cochrane Collaboration) software is for data processing throughout the review. The package "netmeta" (version 0.5-0) in R (version 3.0.2, The R Foundation for Statistical Computing) will be used to perform network meta-analysis (NMA). In addition, the overall quality of evidence is evaluated by GRADEPro software, and Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias Tool is employed for the methodological quality. Generally speaking, this review protocol is reported according to the preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols 2015 guidelines.

Results: According to this protocol, it will provide evidence in support of, or against, the hypothesis that TCM therapy for PSD is more effective than pharmacotherapy. The results of this study will also provide evidence on relative efficacy of different forms of TCM. Furthermore, this analysis will show which form(s) of TCM therapy is (are) the most effective.

Conclusion: The results will help PSD doctors and patients choose the treatment regimen which is effective, time-saving and economical.

PROSPERO registration number: CRD42016041594.

Copyright (C) 2019 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.