INTRODUCTION: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) affects 1 in every 14 adults. Many treatments for PFP have been evaluated, but the comparative effectiveness of all available treatments has never been examined. Network meta-analysis is the only design to study the comparative effectiveness of all available treatments in one synthesis. This protocol describes the methods for a systematic review including network meta-analysis to assess which treatment is most likely to be effective for patients with PFP.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The primary outcome measures of this network meta-analysis are the global rating of change scale at 6-12 weeks, 13-52 weeks and >52 weeks. The secondary outcome measures are patient-rated pain scales at 6-12 weeks, 13-52 weeks and >52 weeks. Completed published and unpublished randomised controlled trials with full-text reports are eligible for inclusion. We will search Embase, PubMed (including MEDLINE), CENTRAL, Scopus, Web of Science, and CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, OpenGrey, WorldCat, conference Proceedings and multiple trial registers for relevant reports. Two researchers will appraise the study eligibility and perform data extraction. Risk of bias will be assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool V.2.0.Bayesian network meta-analyses will be constructed for global rating of change scale and patient-rated pain. Consistency between direct and indirect comparisons will be assessed. Between study variability will be explored, and a threshold analysis for the credibility of the network meta-analyses' conclusions will be performed.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval is not required, as this study will be based on published data. The study commenced at 1 February 2018, and its expected completion date is 15 January 2019. Full publication of the work will be sought in an international peer-reviewed journal, as well as translational articles to disseminate the work to clinical practitioners.

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Keywords knee, musculoskeletal disorders, sports medicine
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Journal BMJ Open
Winters, M, Holden, S, Vicenzino, B, Welton, N.J, Caldwell, D.M, Lura, C.B, … Rathleff, M.S. (2018). Which treatment is most effective for patients with patellofemoral pain?. BMJ Open, 8(11). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022920