Perceptual Components of Tinnitus Severity
(Abstract of ARO Meeting Denver, Colorado)
Mary Meikle1, James Henry2, Susan Griest1, Barbara Stewart1
Oregon Health & Science University, 2Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR. USA
Most existing questionnaires for assessing the severity and negative
impact of tinnitus tend to emphasize functional or emotional effects of
While such measures are important for diagnostic purposes and
as outcome measures, they require time periods of several days to several
weeks or longer for observation of meaningful changes following treatment.
More rapid evaluation of treatment outcomes can be obtained using patients'
reports of the perceptual characteristics of tinnitus such as its loudness,
salience, unpleasantness, intrusiveness, and the percentage of time the
tinnitus sensations are perceived.
However, the extent to which such perceptual
attributes of tinnitus are appropriate indicators of the clinical severity
of tinnitus has received relatively little systematic attention.
measurement sensitivity, we designed a 43-item questionnaire to quantify
patients' responses concerning functional, emotional and perceptual aspects
of tinnitus, using a 0-10 point response scale for each question.
of 327 subjects with varying levels of tinnitus, recruited from a diverse
group of patients attending clinics in three locations (Oregon, Ohio,
Florida), responded to the questionnaires before and after receiving treatment.
As expected, the perceptual attributes listed above were positively related
to global measures of tinnitus distress, including (1) a Visual Analog
Scale and (2) the question "How much of a problem is your tinnitus?" (response
levels: 0=Not a problem; 1=Small problem; 2=Moderate problem; 3=Big problem;
4=Very big problem).
Effect sizes for the perceptual measures (computed
for subjects reporting treatment benefi t) ranged from 0.49- 1.50.
data will be presented concerning the ability of perceptual measures to
serve as reliable, sensitive outcome measures for studies that require
rapid evaluation of tinnitus treatments having immediate effects, such
as stimulation with electrical, magnetic, or acoustic stimuli.