Non-pharmacological intervention effects on apathy caused by central nervous system organic diseases: A network meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2022 Sep 2;101(35):e30467. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000030467.


Background: To evaluate the best non-pharmacological interventions on apathy in patients with central nervous system (CNS) organic diseases.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, Cochrane Library electronic databases, China national knowledge infrastructure, Wanfang and Chinese biomedical literature database studies published from 2011 to May 29, 2021. A combination of subject words and free words were used for searching. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of non-pharmacological interventions for apathy in patients with central nervous organic disease were included. Two researchers independently identified the eligible RCTs and extracted information. The risk of bias within each individual trial was assessed using the Cocharane Collaboration's tool. Review Manager 5.4 and ADDIS 1.16.5 were used for data analysis.

Results: A total of 5324 related studies were obtained in the initial screening, and final 8 RCTs including 334 patients were included, involving 4 non-pharmacological interventions of cognitive intervention, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), music therapy and occupational therapy. Direct comparison results showed that rTMS, cognitive intervention, and occupational therapy were superior to the conventional group (P < .05). Network Meta repeated rTMS, cognitive intervention was superior to the conventional group (P < .05), while the other groups did not differ from with the conventional group (P > .05). The order of superiority was rTMS, cognitive intervention, occupational therapy, music therapy, and conventional group.

Conclusion: Current evidence suggests that rTMS and cognitive interventions are more effective than the conventional intervention in improving apathy in patients with CNS organic diseases. It still needs more non-pharmacological intervention studies with high quality, larger sample sizes for further exploration.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Apathy*
  • Central Nervous System
  • Central Nervous System Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods