The Analgesic Effect of Electroencephalographic Neurofeedback for People With Chronic Pain: Protocol for a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (Preprint)

JMIR Publications Inc.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
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Chronic pain is a global health problem, affecting around 1 in 5 individuals in the general population. The understanding of the key role of functional brain alterations in the generation of chronic pain has led researchers to focus on pain treatments that target brain activity. Electroencephalographic neurofeedback attempts to modulate the power of maladaptive electroencephalography frequency powers to decrease chronic pain. Although several studies have provided promising evidence, the effect of electroencephalographic neurofeedback on chronic pain is uncertain.


This systematic review aims to synthesize the evidence from randomized controlled trials to evaluate the analgesic effect of electroencephalographic neurofeedback. In addition, we will synthesize the findings of nonrandomized studies in a narrative review.


We will apply the search strategy in 5 electronic databases (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, and CINAHL) for published studies and in clinical trial registries for completed unpublished studies. We will include studies that used electroencephalographic neurofeedback as an intervention for people with chronic pain. Risk-of-bias tools will be used to assess methodological quality of the included studies. We will include randomized controlled trials if they have compared electroencephalographic neurofeedback with any other intervention or placebo control. The data from randomized controlled trials will be aggregated to perform a meta-analysis for quantitative synthesis. The primary outcome measure is pain intensity assessed by self-report scales. Secondary outcome measures include depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and sleep quality measured by self-reported questionnaires. We will investigate the studies for additional outcomes addressing adverse effects and resting-state electroencephalography analysis. Additionally, all types of nonrandomized studies will be included for a narrative synthesis. The intended and unintended effects of nonrandomized studies will be extracted and summarized in a descriptive table.


Ethics approval is not required for a systematic review, as there will be no patient involvement. The search for this systematic review commenced in July 2020, and we expect to publish the findings in early 2021.


This systematic review will provide recommendations for researchers and health professionals, as well as people with chronic pain, about the evidence for the analgesic effect of electroencephalographic neurofeedback.


International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) CRD42020177608;



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