Efficacy of theta burst stimulation (TBS) for major depression: An exploratory meta-analysis of randomized and sham-controlled trials

Journal of Psychiatric Research
Marcelo T BerlimRuben Martins


Theta burst stimulation (TBS) has been proposed as a novel treatment for major depression (MD). However, randomized and sham-controlled trials (RCTs) published to date have yielded heterogeneous clinical results and we have thus carried out the present systematic review and exploratory meta-analysis of RCTs to evaluate this issue. We searched the literature for RCTs on TBS for MD from January 2001 through September 2016 using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and CENTRAL. We then performed a random-effects meta-analysis with the main outcome measures including pre-post score changes in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) as well as rates of response, remission and dropout. Data were obtained from 5 RCTs, totalling 221 subjects with MD. The pooled Hedges' g for pre-post change in HAM-D scores was 1.0 (p = 0.003), indicating a significant and large-sized difference in outcome favouring active TBS. Furthermore, active TBS was associated with significantly higher response rates when compared to sham TBS (35.6% vs. 17.5%, respectively; p = 0.005), although the groups did not differ in terms of rates of remission (18.6% vs. 10.7%, respectively; p = 0.1) and dropout (4.2% vs. 7.8%, respectively; p = 0.5). Finally, subgroup analyses ...Continue Reading


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