Management of chronic neuropathic pain: a protocol for a multiple treatment comparison meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
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INTRODUCTION: Chronic neuropathic pain is associated with reduced health-related quality of life and substantial socioeconomic costs. Current research addressing management of chronic neuropathic pain is limited. No review has evaluated all interventional studies for chronic neuropathic pain, which limits attempts to make inferences regarding the relative effectiveness of treatments. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a systematic review of all randomised controlled trials evaluating therapies for chronic neuropathic pain. We will identify eligible trials, in any language, by a systematic search of CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, AMED, HealthSTAR, DARE, PsychINFO and the Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials. Eligible trials will be: (1) enrol patients presenting with chronic neuropathic pain, and (2) randomise patients to alternative interventions (pharmacological or non-pharmacological) or an intervention and a control arm. Pairs of reviewers will, independently and in duplicate, screen titles and abstracts of identified citations, review the full texts of potentially eligible trials and extract information from eligible trials. We will use a modified Cochrane instrument to evaluate risk of bias of eligible studies, recommendations from the Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials (IMMPACT) to inform the outcomes we will collect, and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system to evaluate our confidence in treatment effects. When possible, we will conduct: (1) in direct comparisons, a random-effects meta-analysis to establish the effect of reported therapies on patient-important outcomes; and (2) a multiple treatment comparison meta-analysis within a Bayesian framework to assess the relative effects of treatments. We will define a priori hypotheses to explain heterogeneity between studies, and conduct meta-regression and subgroup analyses consistent with the current best practices. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: We do not require ethics approval for our proposed review. We will disseminate our findings through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: PROSPERO (CRD42014009212).
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