DOI: 10.3390/brainsci13121665 ISSN: 2076-3425

Efficacy of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Combined with Psychological Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Xiaomin Xu, Mei Xu, Yon Su, Thanh Vinh Cao, Stevan Nikolin, Adriano Moffa, Colleen Loo, Donel Martin
  • General Neuroscience

(1) Background: Psychological interventions are effective in alleviating neuropsychiatric symptoms, though results can vary between patients. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been proven to improve clinical symptoms and cognition. It remains unclear whether rTMS can augment the efficacy of psychological interventions. (2) Methods: We examined the effects of rTMS combined with psychological interventions on clinical, functional, and cognitive outcomes from randomized controlled trials conducted in healthy and clinical populations. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO databases up to April 2023. (3) Results: Twenty-seven studies were ultimately included. Compared to sham rTMS combined with psychological interventions, active rTMS combined with psychological interventions significantly improved overall clinical symptoms (k = 16, SMD  =  0.31, CIs 0.08 to 0.54, p  <  0.01). We found that 10 or more sessions of rTMS combined with cognitive behavioural therapy significantly improved clinical outcomes overall (k = 3, SMD  =  0.21, CIs  0.05 to 0.36, Z = 2.49, p  <  0.01). RTMS combined with cognitive training (CT) significantly improved cognition overall compared to sham rTMS combined with CT (k = 13, SMD  =  0.28, CIs 0.15 to 0.42, p  <  0.01), with a significant effect on global cognition (k = 11, SMD  =  0.45, CIs 0.21 to 0.68, p  < 0.01), but not on the other cognitive domains. (4) Conclusion: The current results provide preliminary support for the augmentation effects of active rTMS on clinical and cognitive outcomes across diverse populations. Future clinical trials are required to confirm these augmentation effects for specific psychological interventions in specific clinical populations.

More from our Archive