Psychological Therapy for People with Tinnitus: A Scoping Review of Treatment Components

Dean M Thompson, Deborah A Hall, Dawn-Marie Walker, Derek J Hoare

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
216 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Tinnitus is associated with depression and anxiety disorders, severely and adversely affecting the quality of life and functional health status for some people. With the dearth of clinical psychologists embedded in audiology services and the cessation of training for hearing therapists in the UK, it is left to audiologists to meet the psychological needs of many patients with tinnitus. However, there is no universally standardized training or manualized intervention specifically for audiologists across the whole UK public healthcare system and similar systems elsewhere across the world.

OBJECTIVES: The primary aim of this scoping review was to catalog the components of psychological therapies for people with tinnitus, which have been used or tested by psychologists, so that they might inform the development of a standardized audiologist-delivered psychological intervention. Secondary aims of this article were to identify the types of psychological therapy for people with tinnitus, who were reported but not tested in any clinical trial, as well as the job roles of clinicians who delivered psychological therapy for people with tinnitus in the literature.

DESIGN: The authors searched the Cochrane Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group Trials Register; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials; PubMed; EMBASE; CINAHL; LILACS; KoreaMed; IndMed; PakMediNet; CAB Abstracts; Web of Science; BIOSIS Previews; ISRCTN;; IC-TRP; and Google Scholar. In addition, the authors searched the gray literature including conference abstracts, dissertations, and editorials. No records were excluded on the basis of controls used, outcomes reached, timing, setting, or study design (except for reviews-of the search results. Records were included in which a psychological therapy intervention was reported to address adults (≤18 years) tinnitus-related distress. No restrictive criteria were placed upon the term tinnitus. Records were excluded in which the intervention included biofeedback, habituation, hypnosis, or relaxation as necessary parts of the treatment.

RESULTS: A total of 5043 records were retrieved of which 64 were retained. Twenty-five themes of components that have been included within a psychological therapy were identified, including tinnitus education, psychoeducation, evaluation treatment rationale, treatment planning, problem-solving behavioral intervention, thought identification, thought challenging, worry time, emotions, social comparison, interpersonal skills, self-concept, lifestyle advice, acceptance and defusion, mindfulness, attention, relaxation, sleep, sound enrichment, comorbidity, treatment reflection, relapse prevention, and common therapeutic skills. The most frequently reported psychological therapies were cognitive behavioral therapy, tinnitus education, and internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy. No records reported that an audiologist delivered any of these psychological therapies in the context of an empirical trial in which their role was clearly delineated from that of other clinicians.

CONCLUSIONS: Scoping review methodology does not attempt to appraise the quality of evidence or synthesize the included records. Further research should therefore determine the relative importance of these different components of psychological therapies from the perspective of the patient and the clinician.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalEar and Hearing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2016


  • Anxiety Disorders/psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/methods
  • Depressive Disorder/psychology
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic/methods
  • Psychotherapy/methods
  • Tinnitus/psychology


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