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Managing cognitive impairment following stroke: protocol for a systematic review of non-randomised controlled studies of psychological interventions
  1. Niamh A Merriman1,
  2. Eithne Sexton1,
  3. Nora-Ann Donnelly2,
  4. Grainne McCabe3,
  5. Mary E Walsh1,4,
  6. Daniela Rohde1,
  7. Ashleigh Gorman1,
  8. Isabelle Jeffares1,
  9. Niall Pender5,
  10. David Williams6,7,
  11. Frances Horgan4,
  12. Frank Doyle1,
  13. Maev-Ann Wren2,
  14. Kathleen E Bennett1,
  15. Anne Hickey1
  1. 1 Division of Population Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Library, Dublin, Ireland
  4. 4 School of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  5. 5 Department of Psychology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  6. 6 Department of Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  7. 7 Department of Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Niamh A Merriman; niamhmerriman{at}


Introduction Stroke is one of the primary causes of death and disability worldwide, leaving a considerable proportion of survivors with persistent cognitive and functional deficits. Despite the prevalence of poststroke cognitive impairment, there is no established treatment aimed at improving cognitive function following a stroke. Therefore, the aims of this systematic review are to identify psychological interventions intended to improve poststroke cognitive function and establish their efficacy.

Methods and analysis A systematic review of non-randomised controlled studies that investigated the efficacy of psychological interventions aimed at improving cognitive function in stroke survivors will be conducted. Electronic searches will be performed in the PubMed, Embase and PsycINFO databases, the search dating from the beginning of the index to February 2017. Reference lists of all identified relevant articles will be reviewed to identify additional studies not previously identified by the electronic search. Potential grey literature will be reviewed using Google Scholar. Titles and abstracts will be assessed for eligibility by one reviewer, with a random sample of 50% independently double-screened by second reviewers. Any discrepancies will be resolved through discussion, with referral to a third reviewer where necessary. Risk of bias will be assessed with the Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies of Interventions tool. Meta-analyses will be performed if studies are sufficiently homogeneous. This review will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. The quality of the evidence regarding cognitive function will be assessed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation.

Ethics and dissemination This systematic review will collect secondary data only and as such ethical approval is not required. Findings will be disseminated through presentations and peer-reviewed publication. This review will provide information on the effectiveness of psychological interventions for poststroke cognitive impairment, identifying which psychological interventions are effective for improving poststroke cognitive function.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42017069714.

  • stroke
  • cognitive impairment
  • cognitive rehabilitation

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conception and design of the study, the development of the search strategy, the establishment of the inclusion and exclusion criteria, data extraction criteria, analyses and interpretation. NAM, DR, IJ, AG and MEW will perform the study search, screening and extraction of data. NAM drafted the manuscript, and AH, KEB, DW, NP, FH, and FD provided critical revision of the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research was funded by the Health Research Board of Ireland Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) award (2016–2019): The StrokeCog study: modelling and modifying the consequences of stroke-related cognitive impairment through intervention (Grant code: ICE-2015-1048) and HRB RL-15-1579 awarded to KEB.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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