Health Services Research & Development

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Henry JA, Thielman EJ, Zaugg TL, Kaelin C, McMillan GP, Schmidt CJ, Myers PJ, Carlson KF. Telephone-Based Progressive Tinnitus Management for Persons With and Without Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Ear and Hearing. 2019 Mar 1; 40(2):227-242.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVES: This randomized controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of delivering coping skills education from Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM) by telephone (Tele-PTM). The trial followed a previous pilot study that showed positive results for Tele-PTM. DESIGN: Participants included individuals with bothersome tinnitus (N = 205) located anywhere within the United States. A special emphasis was given to including individuals who had experienced one or more traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Participants were randomized to either Tele-PTM intervention or 6-month wait-list control (WLC). The Tele-PTM intervention involved five telephone appointments-two led by an audiologist (teaching how to use therapeutic sound) and three by a psychologist (teaching coping skills derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy). It was hypothesized that Tele-PTM would be more effective than WLC in reducing functional effects of tinnitus as measured with the Tinnitus Functional Index. Additional outcome measures included the Self-Efficacy for Managing Reactions to Tinnitus questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The effect of Tele-PTM on outcomes was estimated using linear mixed models. RESULTS: Overall results showed convincingly that the Tele-PTM group had significantly better outcomes than the WLC group. These results were consistent across all outcome measures, indicating not only a reduction of tinnitus functional distress but also increased self-efficacy. Improvements in measures of anxiety and depression were also observed. Tele-PTM participants in all TBI categories showed significant improvement. CONCLUSIONS: Results provide strong support for use of Tele-PTM methodology for persons with bothersome tinnitus, regardless of whether the person also has TBI symptoms. The effect size for Tele-PTM was high for the primary outcome measure, the Tinnitus Functional Index, and all other outcome measures showed significant improvement. Combined with our previous pilot study, the Tele-PTM method is validated for potential nationwide provision of tinnitus services.