Willingness to Accept and Pay for Implantable Tinnitus Treatments: A Survey

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Abstract

Objectives:

At present, there is no cure for tinnitus. Neurostimulation techniques have shown great promise, but it is uncertain whether they will gain acceptance because of their invasive nature. We have previously demonstrated that pairing acoustic stimuli with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) also has potential as a viable tinnitus treatment approach.

Methods:

We conducted a survey on tinnitus sufferers that emphasized questions related to a willingness to pay for the treatment of tinnitus, including VNS. Four hundred thirty-nine individuals responded to an Internet survey modeled after a recent study by Tyler.

Results:

The average age was about 47 years. Ninety-four percent reported that they had health insurance. Almost 40% had spent between $500 and $10,000 on tinnitus therapies. Almost three-fourths said that they would be willing to have a device implanted if it reduced tinnitus annoyance by half. About 70% of those with very loud tinnitus would be willing to have a temporary implant, and about 60% would be willing to have a permanent implant even if the device suppressed their tinnitus by only half of its annoyance. Only 10% of patients with SOFT tinnitus would be willing to have a permanent implant if the therapy suppressed their tinnitus by only half of its annoyance.

Conclusions:

We conclude that implanted devices, such as a VNS, will be an acceptable form of tinnitus treatment for many who suffer from tinnitus. The results of this survey indicate that VNS tone pairing would be an acceptable therapeutic solution for individuals with moderate to severe tinnitus and should be developed for the market.

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