Efficacy of interventions to improve physical activity levels in individuals with stroke: a systematic review protocol.

Stroke is a leading health problem worldwide and an important cause of disability. Stroke survivors show low levels of physical activity, and increases in physical activity levels may improve function and health status. Therefore, the aims are to identify which interventions that have been employed to increase physical activity levels with stroke survivors, to verify their efficacy and to identify the gaps in the literature.

A systematic review of randomised controlled trials that investigated the efficacy of interventions aiming at increasing physical activity levels of stroke survivors will be conducted. Electronic searches will be performed in the MEDLINE, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), Excerpta Medica (EMBASE), Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde (LILACS) and Scientific Electronic Library Online (SCIELO) databases. Hand searches of the reference lists of the included studies or relevant reviews will also be employed. Two independent reviewers will screen all the retrieved titles, abstracts and full texts. A third reviewer will be referred to solve any disagreements. The quality of the included studies will be assessed by the PEDro Rating Scale. This systematic review will also include a qualitative synthesis. Meta-analyses will be performed, if the studies are sufficiently homogeneous. This review will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement. The quality of the evidence regarding physical activity will be assessed, according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE).

This systematic review will provide information on which interventions are effective for increasing physical activity levels of stroke survivors. This evidence may be important for clinical decision-making and will allow the identification of gaps in the literature that may be useful for the definition of future research goals and the planning of new trials.