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IntroductionIt is unclear how pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions compare with each other in terms of efficacy and tolerability for core symptoms and additional problems in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We aim to conduct the first network meta-analysis (NMA) comparing pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions (or their combinations) in adults with ADHD.Methods and analysisWe will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement for NMAs. We will search a broad set of electronic databases/registries and contact drug companies and experts in the field to retrieve published and unpublished randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (parallel or cross-over) of medications (either licensed or unlicensed) and any non-pharmacological intervention in adults (≥18 years) with ADHD. Primary outcomes will be: (1) change in severity of ADHD core symptoms, and (2) acceptability (all-cause discontinuation). Secondary outcomes will include tolerability (drop-out due to side effects) and change in the severity of emotional dysregulation, executive dysfunctions and quality of life. The risk of bias in each individual RCT included in the NMA will be assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool-version 2. We will evaluate the transitivity assumption comparing the distribution of possible effect modifiers across treatment comparisons. We will perform Bayesian NMA for each outcome with random-effects model in OpenBUGS. Pooled estimates of NMA will be obtained using the Markov Chains Monte Carlo method. We will judge the credibility in the evidence derived from the NMA using the CINeMA tool (which includes assessment of publication bias). We will conduct a series of sensitivity analyses to assess the robustness of the findings.Ethics and disseminationAs this is the protocol for an aggregate-data level NMA, ethical approval will not be required. Results will be disseminated at national/international conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.PROSPERO registration numberCRD42021265576.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open



Publication Date





e058102 - e058102