Comprehensive database and individual patient data meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials on psychotherapies reducing suicidal thoughts and behaviour: Study protocol

Mandy Xian Hu*, Christina Palantza, Kim Setkowski, Renske Gilissen, Eirini Karyotaki, Pim Cuijpers, Heleen Riper, Derek de Beurs, Chani Nuij, Helen Christensen, Alison Calear, Aliza Werner-Seidler, Adriaan Hoogendoorn, Anton van Balkom, Merijn Eikelenboom, Jan Smit, Wouter van Ballegooijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction Psychotherapy may reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviour, but its effectiveness is not well examined. Furthermore, conventional meta-analyses are unable to test possible effects of moderators affecting this relationship. This protocol outlines the building of a comprehensive database of the literature in this research field. In addition, we will conduct an individual patient data meta-analysis (IPD-MA) to establish the effectiveness of psychotherapy in reducing suicidality, and to examine which factors moderate the efficacy of these interventions. Methods and analysis To build a comprehensive database, randomised controlled trials examining the effect of any psychotherapy targeting any psychiatric disorder on suicidal thoughts or behaviour will be identified by running a systematic search in PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Scopus and The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from data inception to 12 August 2019. For the IPD-MA, we will focus on adult outpatients with suicidal ideation or behaviour. In addition, as a comparison group we will focus on a control group (waiting-list, care as usual or placebo). A 1-stage IPD-MA will be used to determine the effectiveness of psychotherapy on suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and/or suicide deaths, and to investigate potential patient-related and intervention-related moderators. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses will be conducted to test the robustness of the findings. Additionally, a conventional MA will be conducted to determine the differences between studies that provided IPD and those that did not. IPD-MA may determine the effectiveness of psychotherapy in reducing suicidality and provide insights into the moderating factors influencing the efficacy of psychotherapy. Answering these questions will inform mental healthcare practitioners about optimal treatments for different groups of individuals with suicidal ideation and/or behaviour and consequently help to reduce suicide risk. Ethics and dissemination An ethical approval is not required for this study. The results will be published in a peer-review journal. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020140573
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere037566
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020

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