Background: To assess the effectiveness of acupuncture in patients with post-stroke depression (PSD).
Methods: The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, EMBASE, PubMed, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and 4 Chinese databases were electronically searched for articles published between January 1, 2010 and May 31, 2018. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the effects of acupuncture on PSD were included. The quality of all included trials was assessed according to guidelines published by the Cochrane Collaboration.
Results: Seven trials compared the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy with that of control in alleviating the symptoms of PSD. Pooled analysis demonstrated that patients in the acupuncture intervention group experienced a significantly higher treatment effect than controls (RR 1.16 [95% CI 1.08–1.24]; P<.0001), with low study heterogeneity (I2=4%). Based on intervention methods, further analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in effectiveness between the acupuncture alone and medicine groups (RR 1.25 [95% CI 1.11 1.41]; Z=3.78; P=.0002). There was no statistically significant difference in efficacy between the acupuncture combined with medicine and medicine groups (RR 1.07 [95% CI 0.98–1.17]; P=.11).
Conclusions: This meta-analysis provides evidence supporting the viewpoint that acupuncture is an effective and safe treatment for PSD. Subgroup analyses further revealed that acupuncture alone resulted in better outcomes than drug therapy in improving depressive symptoms. Further high-quality RCTs are needed to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture for PSD and develop standardized acupuncture protocols.
Abbreviations: BDNF = brain-derived neurotrophic factor, CI = confidence interval, Hamilton HRSD = rating scale for depression, PSD = post-stroke depression, RCTs = randomized controlled trials, RR = risk ratio.
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