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INTRODUCTION: Despite important advances in psychological and pharmacological treatments of persistent depressive disorders in the past decades, their responses remain typically slow and poor, and differential responses among different modalities of treatments or their combinations are not well understood. Cognitive-Behavioural Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) is the only psychotherapy that has been specifically designed for chronic depression and has been examined in an increasing number of trials against medications, alone or in combination. When several treatment alternatives are available for a certain condition, network meta-analysis (NMA) provides a powerful tool to examine their relative efficacy by combining all direct and indirect comparisons. Individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis enables exploration of impacts of individual characteristics that lead to a differentiated approach matching treatments to specific subgroups of patients. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will search for all randomised controlled trials that compared CBASP, pharmacotherapy or their combination, in the treatment of patients with persistent depressive disorder, in Cochrane CENTRAL, PUBMED, SCOPUS and PsycINFO, supplemented by personal contacts. Individual participant data will be sought from the principal investigators of all the identified trials. Our primary outcomes are depression severity as measured on a continuous observer-rated scale for depression, and dropouts for any reason as a proxy measure of overall treatment acceptability. We will conduct a one-step IPD-NMA to compare CBASP, medications and their combinations, and also carry out a meta-regression to identify their prognostic factors and effect moderators. The model will be fitted in OpenBUGS, using vague priors for all location parameters. For the heterogeneity we will use a half-normal prior on the SD. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study requires no ethical approval. We will publish the findings in a peer-reviewed journal. The study results will contribute to more finely differentiated therapeutics for patients suffering from this chronically disabling disorder. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42016035886.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





Differential therapeutics, Systematic review, Cognitive Therapy, Combined Modality Therapy, Depressive Disorder, Drug Therapy, Humans, Network Meta-Analysis, Outcome Assessment (Health Care), Psychotherapy, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Systems Analysis