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Clinical effects and safety of electroacupuncture for the treatment of post-stroke depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials


Objective The aim of this systematic review was to assess the efficacy/effectiveness and safety of electroacupuncture (EA) in the treatment of post-stroke depression (PSD).

Methods A comprehensive literature search in the Pubmed, Embase, CENTRAL, ISI Web of Science, CNKI and Wanfang databases was conducted, and all relevant randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were screened for eligibility by two independent reviewers. The Cochrane Collaboration’s tool and Jadad score were used to assess the risk of bias of included studies, and only RCTs scoring ≥3 were included in a meta-analysis.

Results 18 RCTs involving a total of 813 participants (mean age 61.6 years) in the EA groups and 723 participants (mean age 61.9 years) in the control groups were included. The included studies had an average 3 point Jadad score. PSD was diagnosed according to the Chinese Classification of Cerebrovascular Disease (CCCD) and the Chinese Classification of Mental Disease (CCMD) criteria. There was no significant difference between EA and antidepressants (fluoxetine 10–40 mg/day, citalopram 20 mg/day, sertraline 50 mg/day) in terms of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores at week 4 after treatment (standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.11, 95% CI −0.31 to 0.10), at week 6 after treatment (SMD 0.04, 95% CI −0.43 to 0.51) or at week 8 after treatment (SMD −0.01, 95% CI −0.23 to 0.22). However, the combined incidence of adverse events in the EA groups was significantly lower than in the antidepressant groups (RR 0.21, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.33).

Conclusion There was no significant difference between EA and antidepressants in the severity of depression, however EA caused fewer adverse events than antidepressants. Additional larger scale RCTs with rigorous study design are required.

  • electroacupuncture
  • stroke medicine
  • systematic reviews

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