Community-deliverable exercise and anxiety in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases: a protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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Introduction: While anxiety is a major public health problem in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases (AORD), the effects of exercise on anxiety in adults are not well established despite numerous studies on this topic. The purpose of this study is to conduct a systematic review with an aggregate data meta-analysis to determine the effects of communitydeliverable exercise interventions (aerobic, strength training or both) on anxiety in adults with AORD. Methods and analysis: Randomised controlled exercise intervention trials ≥4 weeks and published in any language up to 31 December 2016 will be included. Studies will be retrieved by searching 8 electronic databases, cross-referencing and expert review. Dual selection and abstraction of data will occur. The primary outcome will be changes in anxiety. Risk of bias will be assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias assessment instrument while confidence in the cumulative evidence will be assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) instrument. Standardised effect sizes for anxiety will be calculated from each study and then pooled using the inverse variance heterogeneity (IVhet) model. Meta-regression based on the IVhet model will be used to examine the relationship between changes in anxiety and selected covariates. Dissemination: The results of this study will be presented at a professional conference and published in a peer-reviewed journal. Trial registration number: CRD42016048728.