Individual Patient Factors Associated with Effective Tinnitus Treatment

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Abstract

Background:

Little is known about patient factors that might influence outcomes of tinnitus interventions. Determining such factors would offer insights into why some individuals benefit from tinnitus intervention whereas others do not.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate selected patient factors that may be associated with outcomes of tinnitus intervention. Factors studied include demographics, tinnitus characteristics, psychoacoustic tinnitus measures, audiometric data, and overall physical/emotional health status.

Research Design:

A retrospective analysis was performed on data obtained from a controlled clinical study that compared factors associated with tinnitus relief after tinnitus masking and tinnitus retraining therapy.

Study Sample:

A total of 126 military veterans participated in this controlled clinical study. Of these, 89 completed outcome measures at both baseline and 12 mo and were included in the present analysis.

Data Collection and Analysis:

A “responder” to intervention was identified as having a decrease (improvement) of 20 or more points on the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory between baseline and 12 mo. A “nonresponder” did not achieve a 20-point improvement on the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory. Individual patient factors were examined using independent t-tests or χ2 analysis. A logistic regression model was used to determine how well each factor predicted treatment outcome (responder or nonresponder) while controlling for each of the other factors.

Results:

Five patient factors were significantly different (p ≤ 0.05) between responders and nonre-sponders. Responders tended to (1) be younger in age; (2) have better low-frequency hearing sensitivity; (3) have greater problems with overall hearing; (4) be more likely to have tinnitus for shorter durations; and (5) perceive their tinnitus to be located “in the head” versus “in the ears.” A logistic regression was then performed to determine how well each factor predicted the treatment outcome (responder versus nonresponder) while controlling for each of the other factors. Results from the logistic regression revealed two of the five factors, localization of tinnitus and self-report of hearing problems, to be statistically significant.

Conclusions:

Examining the association of individual patient factors to a specific tinnitus intervention yielded several significant findings. Although these findings are not definitive, they reveal the capability that exists to perform these kinds of analyses to investigate relationships between individual patient characteristics and outcomes of intervention for tinnitus. Prospective research using systematic approaches is needed to identify these relationships that would contribute toward the ability to differentially predict outcomes of various tinnitus interventions. Obtaining this information would lead to more targeted therapy and ultimately more effective intervention.

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