Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Subclinical thyroid dysfunction and depressive symptoms: protocol for a systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies



Prospective cohort studies on the association between subclinical thyroid dysfunction and depressive symptoms have yielded conflicting findings, possibly because of differences in age, sex, thyroid-stimulating hormone cut-off levels or degree of baseline depressive symptoms. Analysis of individual participant data (IPD) may help clarify this association.

Methods and analysis

We will conduct a systematic review and IPD meta-analysis of prospective studies on the association between subclinical thyroid dysfunction and depressive symptoms. We will identify studies through a systematic search of the literature in the Ovid Medline, Ovid Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases from inception to April 2019 and from the Thyroid Studies Collaboration. We will ask corresponding authors of studies that meet our inclusion criteria to collaborate by providing IPD. Our primary outcome will be depressive symptoms at the first available individual follow-up, measured on a validated scale. We will convert all the scores to the Beck Depression Inventory scale. For each cohort, we will estimate the mean difference of depressive symptoms between participants with subclinical hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and control adjusted for depressive symptoms at baseline. Furthermore, we will adjust our multivariable linear regression analyses for age, sex, education and income. We will pool the effect estimates of all studies in a random-effects meta-analysis. Heterogeneity will be assessed by I2. Our secondary outcomes will be depressive symptoms at a specific follow-up time, at the last available individual follow-up and incidence of depression at the first, last and at a specific follow-up time. For the binary outcome of incident depression, we will use a logistic regression model.

Ethics and dissemination

Formal ethical approval is not required as primary data will not be collected. Our findings will have considerable implications for patient care. We will seek to publish this systematic review and IPD meta-analysis in a high-impact clinical journal.

Prospero registration number


Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View