Background The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused recurring and major outbreaks in multiple human populations around the world. The plethora of clinical presentations of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been described extensively, of which olfactory dysfunction (OD) was established as an important and common extrapulmonary manifestation of COVID-19 infection. The aim of this protocol is to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis on peer-reviewed articles which described clinical data of OD in COVID-19 patients.
Methods This research protocol has been prospectively registered with the Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO; CRD42020196202). CINAHL, ClinicalTrials.gov, Cochrane Central, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PubMed, as well as Chinese medical databases: China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), VIP and WANFANG will be searched using keywords including “COVID-19”, “coronavirus disease”, “2019-nCoV”, “SARS-CoV-2”, “novel coronavirus”, “anosmia”, “hyposmia”, “loss of smell”, and “olfactory dysfunction”. Systematic review and meta-analysis will be conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and the Meta-analyses Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) guidelines. Articles will be screened according to pre-specified inclusion and exclusion criteria to extract studies that include new clinical data investigating the effect of COVID-19 on olfactory dysfunction. Included articles will be reviewed in full; data including patient demographics, clinical characteristics of COVID-19-related OD, methods of olfactory assessment, and relevant clinical outcomes will be extracted. Statistical analyses will be performed using the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis version 3.
Discussion This systematic review and meta-analysis protocol will aim to collate and synthesise all available clinical evidence regarding COVID-19-related OD as an important neurosensory dysfunction of COVID-19 infection. A comprehensive search strategy and screening process will be conducted to incorporate broad clinical data for robust statistical analyses and representation. The outcome of the systematic review and meta-analysis will aim to improve our understanding of the symptomatology and clinical characteristics of COVID-19-related OD and identify knowledge gaps in its disease process, which will guide future research in this specific neurosensory defect.
Systematic Review registration: PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020196202