Introduction Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting approximately 350 million people. Evidence indicates that only 60–70% of persons with major depressive disorder who tolerate antidepressants respond to first-line drug treatment; the remainder become treatment resistant. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered an effective therapy in persons with treatment-resistant depression. The use of ECT is controversial due to concerns about temporary cognitive impairment in the acute post-treatment period. We will conduct a meta-analysis to examine the effects of ECT on cognition in persons with depression.
Methods This systematic review and meta-analysis has been registered with PROSPERO (registration number: CRD42014009100). We developed our methods following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement. We are searching MEDLINE, PsychINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL and Cochrane from the date of database inception to the end of October 2014. We are also searching the reference lists of published reviews and evidence reports for additional citations. Comparative studies (randomised controlled trials, cohort and case–control) published in English will be included in the meta-analysis. Three clinical neuropsychologists will group the cognitive tests in each included article into a set of mutually exclusive cognitive subdomains. The risk of bias of randomised controlled trials will be assessed using the Jadad scale. We will supplement the Jadad scale with additional questions based on the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The risk of bias of cohort and case–control studies will be assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. We will employ the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) to assess the strength of evidence.
Statistical analysis Separate meta-analyses will be conducted for each ECT treatment modality and cognitive subdomain using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis V.2.0.
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