Effects of non-invasive brain stimulation in children and young people with psychiatric disorders: a protocol for a systematic review

Yael D. Lewis, Lucy Gallop, Iain C. Campbell, Ulrike Schmidt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Most psychiatric disorders have their onset in childhood or adolescence, and if not fully treated have the potential for causing life-long psycho-social and physical sequelae. Effective psychotherapeutic and medication treatments exist, but a significant proportion of children and young people do not make a full recovery. Thus, novel, safe, brain-based alternatives or adjuncts to conventional treatments are needed. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques which have shown clinical benefits in adult psychiatric conditions. However, in children and young people their efficacy is not well established. The objective of this study will be to systematically evaluate the evidence on clinical effects of NIBS in children and young people with psychiatric disorders, assessing disorder-specific symptoms, mood and neurocognitive functions. Methods: We designed and registered a study protocol for a systematic review. We will include randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and observational studies (e.g. cohort, case-control, case series) assessing the effects of NIBS in children and young people (aged ≤ 24 years old) for psychiatric disorders. The primary outcome will be reduction of disorder-specific symptoms. Secondary outcomes will include effects on mood and cognition. A comprehensive search from database inception onwards will be conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO. Grey literature will be identified through searching multiple clinical trial registries. Two reviewers will independently screen all citations, full-text articles and abstract data. The methodological quality of the studies will be appraised using appropriate tools. We will provide a narrative synthesis of the evidence and according to heterogeneity will conduct an appropriate meta-analysis. Additional analyses will be conducted to explore the potential sources of heterogeneity. Discussion: This systematic review will provide a broad and comprehensive evaluation of the evidence on clinical effects of NIBS in children and young people with psychiatric disorders. Our findings will be reported according to the PRISMA guidelines and will be of interest to multiple audiences (including patients, researchers, healthcare professionals and policy-makers). Results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42019158957.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
JournalSystematic Reviews
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Children and adolescents
  • Neuromodulation
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS)
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • Young people

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