Background: Roughly 10-15% of the general population is affected by tinnitus and this percentage is estimated to rise in future. Because there is currently no cure for tinnitus, treatment is limited and is primarily achieved through management of symptoms and counseling. Purpose: This study compared audiologists' and patients' responses to related survey questions about their expectations regarding tinnitus treatment. Two separate surveys were created, one for patients with tinnitus, and one for practicing audiologists who may treat such patients. The surveys included several related questions, such that comparison of the two could reveal where patients' and audiologists' expectations for tinnitus care were in agreement and areas in which they differed. Research Design: The surveys for audiologists and adults with tinnitus were 31- and 38-item questionnaires, respectively. Both surveys comprised demographic questions followed by several tinnitus-related questions in either multiple-choice or Likert-scale format. Study Sample: We received 230 completed Patient Surveys and 68 completed Audiologist Surveys. Data Collection and Analysis: All survey recruitment was completed online. Responses were collected via the Survey Monkey web tool (http://www.surveymonkey.com/). Responses were analyzed within and between surveys and grouped into topical categories (assessment, counseling, current available tinnitus information, satisfaction and expectations, improving tinnitus management). For data within each survey, descriptive statistics and correlation analyses were used. For selected comparisons between surveys, cross-tabulations were used. Hierarchical regression modeling was conducted to further explore (1) the perceived effectiveness of treatment received, and (2) how each group defined treatment success. Results: Differences were noted between the two groups' responses to the question on the definition of treatment success; audiologists reported decreased awareness (77%), stress/anxiety relief (63%), and increased knowledge of tinnitus (63%) most commonly, whereas patients reported reduction of tinnitus loudness (63%) and complete elimination of tinnitus (57%) most often. The topic of greatest agreement was the desire for more information on tinnitus; 62% of patients felt more information from their healthcare provider would be the most important factor for improved tinnitus management, and 67% of audiologists reported currently having "some access" or less to appropriate resources for tinnitus treatment. Modeling results for effective tinnitus management and definitions of treatment success highlighted the importance of resource access and information sharing for both audiologists and patients. Conclusions: Patients and audiologists differed in terms of their expectations for successful treatment, with the patients focusing on perceptual factors and the audiologists on the reaction to the sound. Patient satisfaction with tinnitus treatment may be improved through access to more information, specifically, more information about current tinnitus treatment options and how these focus on the patient's reaction to the tinnitus rather than the percept itself. Providing credible tinnitus information resources to audiologists, and focusing resources on training a small number of tinnitus specialist audiologists could greatly improve patient satisfaction with the current state of tinnitus palliative care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing