Skip to main content

01.12.2018 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1/2018

A narrative synthesis of research evidence for tinnitus-related complaints as reported by patients and their significant others

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes > Ausgabe 1/2018
Deborah Ann Hall, Kathryn Fackrell, Anne Beatrice Li, Rachel Thavayogan, Sandra Smith, Veronica Kennedy, Catarina Tinoco, Evelina D. Rodrigues, Paula Campelo, Tânia D. Martins, Vera Martins Lourenço, Diogo Ribeiro, Haúla F. Haider
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12955-018-0888-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



There are a large number of assessment tools for tinnitus, with little consensus on what it is important to measure and no preference for a minimum reporting standard. The item content of tinnitus assessment tools should seek to capture relevant impacts of tinnitus on everyday life, but no-one has yet synthesised information about the range of tinnitus complaints. This review is thus the first comprehensive and authoritative collection and synthesis of what adults with tinnitus and their significant others report as problems in their everyday lives caused by tinnitus.


Electronic searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, as well as grey literature sources to identify publications from January 1980 to June 2015 in which participants were enrolled because tinnitus was their primary complaint. A manual search of seven relevant journals updated the search to December 2017. Of the 3699 titles identified overall, 84 records (reporting 86 studies) met our inclusion criteria and were taken through to data collection. Coders collated generic and tinnitus-specific complaints reported by people with tinnitus. All relevant data items were then analyzed using an iterative approach to narrative synthesis to form domain groupings representing complaints of tinnitus, which were compared patients and significant others.


From the 86 studies analyzed using data collected from 16,381 patients, 42 discrete complaints were identified spanning physical and psychological health, quality of life and negative attributes of the tinnitus sound. This diversity was not captured by any individual study alone. There was good convergence between complaints collected using open- and closed-format questions, with the exception of general moods and perceptual attributes of tinnitus (location, loudness, pitch and unpleasantness); reported only using closed questions. Just two studies addressed data from the perspective of significant others (n = 79), but there was substantial correspondence with the patient framework, especially regarding relationships and social life.


Our findings contribute fundamental new knowledge and a unique resource that enables investigators to appreciate the broad impacts of tinnitus on an individual. Our findings can also be used to guide questions during diagnostic assessment, to evaluate existing tinnitus-specific HR-QoL questionnaires and develop new ones, where necessary.

Trial Registration

PROSPERO registration number: CRD42015020629. Protocol published in BMJ Open. 2016;6e009171.
Additional file 6: Grouping table reporting the different terminology used by authors to describe the same theoretical constructs. Grouping considered the examples and explanations given by the study authors for each domain of tinnitus-related problem (examples not reported here). Domains that could not be coded either because they were not well-defined, described multiple theoretical constructs which did not group together, or described external modulators of the tinnitus were as follows: Ability to mask the tinnitus sound; Aggravated by noise; Auditory perceptual characteristics of tinnitus; Catastrophic; Changes for loud background noise; Changes in perception over time; Effects of tinnitus on health; Effects of tinnitus on the patients social, emotional and physical behaviour; Emotional; Emotional reaction, social activities and communication, and focused attention; Emotions; Factors that aggravate tinnitus; Functional; Functional handicap caused by tinnitus; Illness focusing; Masking effects; Medical interaction; Most problematic situation; Other people; Overall patient stress and severity of tinnitus; Psychological; Relax; Relief from tinnitus; Self-perceived tinnitus handicap; Sensations in the presence of such sounds; Situational difficulties; Situational effects; Stressors associated with onset or exacerbation of tinnitus; The extent of problems due to tinnitus; Tinnitus loudness/strength, annoyance, impact on life and severity; Tinnitus handicap; Tinnitus problem; Tinnitus sensation; Tinnitus severity; Tinnitus burden and severity. (DOCX 18 kb)
Über diesen Artikel

Weitere Artikel der Ausgabe 1/2018

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1/2018 Zur Ausgabe