We will search MEDLINE (PubMed), EMBASE, and Web of Science, from inception onwards, using a structured search strategy. We have developed a strategy for MEDLINE using a combination of keywords related to “anemia,” “red blood cell transfusion,” “traumatic brain injury,” “stroke,” and “intracranial hemorrhage.” We have also included the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms linked to the keywords mentioned previously and a search filter for animal studies [30]. This search strategy has been pre-tested to obtain a high sensitivity and acceptable specificity. It was also reviewed by an information specialist with expertise in health sciences for additional robustness. The strategy was then modified for EMBASE (with Emtree and a specific filter for animal studies) and Web of Science [31]. The search strategy used for MEDLINE is presented in Additional file 2. We will also review references of the included studies identified through database searches to identify additional studies. We will search databases from their inception, and we will update the search prior to submission of the systematic review in order to include the most recent eligible studies.

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