Role of Hearing Aids in Tinnitus Intervention: A Scoping Review

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Abstract

Background:

Tinnitus can have a devastating impact on the quality of life of the sufferer. Although the mechanisms underpinning tinnitus remain uncertain, hearing loss is often associated with its onset, and hearing aids are among the most commonly used tools for its management.

Purpose:

To conduct a scoping review to explore the role of hearing aids in tinnitus management.

Research Design:

Scoping review based on the six-stage framework of Arksey and O'Malley (2005).

Study Sample:

Relevant studies were identified using various databases (Scopus, Google Scholar, SpringerLink, and PubMed) and hand searching of journals and a reference list of articles. Out of 277 shortlisted articles, 29 studies (18 research studies and 11 reviews) were chosen for charting of data based on their abstracts.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Tinnitus assessment measures used in studies were recorded along with changes in their scores. Measures used in studies included the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), Tinnitus Handicap Questionnaire (THQ), Tinnitus Severity Index (TSI), Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire (TRQ), German version of Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and visual analogue scale (VAS) of tinnitus intensity. Where possible Cohen's d effect size statistic was calculated.

Results:

Although the quality of evidence for hearing aids' effect on tinnitus is not strong, the weight of evidence (17 research studies for, 1 against) suggests merit in using hearing aids for tinnitus management.

Conclusions:

The majority of studies reviewed support the use of hearing aids for tinnitus management. Clinicians should feel reassured that some evidence shows support for the use of hearing aids for treating tinnitus, but there is still a need for stronger methodology and randomized control trials.

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