Positive experiences related to living with tinnitus:
A cross-sectional survey
Department of Vision and Hearing
Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University,
Department of Speech and Hearing
Sciences, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX,
Linnaeus Centre HEAD, Swedish Institute
for Disability Research, Department of
Behavioral Science and Learning, Link
Audiology India, Mysore, India
Department of Speech and Hearing,
School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal
University, Karnataka, India
National Institute for Health Research,
Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre,
Ropewalk House, The Ropewalk,
Otology and Hearing Group, Division of
Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine,
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Vision and Eye Research Unit, Anglia
Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
Department of Behavioral Sciences and
oping University, Link
Department of Clinical Neuroscience,
Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institute,
E.W. Beukes, Department of Vision and
Hearing Sciences, Faculty of Science and
Technology, Anglia Ruskin University,
Objective: The aim of this study was to gain insights related to positive experiences
reported by adults with tinnitus living in the United Kingdom.
Design: A cross-sectional survey design was used in a sample of adults with tinnitus
who were interested in undertaking an Internet-based intervention for tinnitus.
Setting: The study was UK wide and data collection was online.
Participants: Participants consisted of 240 adults (137 males, 103 females), with an
average age of 48.16 years and average tinnitus duration of 11.52 years (SD: 11.88).
Main outcome measures: Tinnitus severity was measured by means of the Tinnitus
Functional Index. To evaluate the secondary effects of tinnitus, the Insomnia Sever-
ity Index, the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults-Screening Version and the
Cognitive Failures Questionnaires were administered. Positive experiences related
to tinnitus were explored using an open-ended question format.
Results: Around a third of participants (32.5%) reported positive experiences associ-
ated with tinnitus. The number of positive responses ranged from one to eight
responses per participant, although there were fewer participants with more than
one positive response. The predominant themes concerned for (i) coping; (ii) per-
sonal development; (iii) support, and to a lesser extent (iv) outlook. Younger partici-
pants, those with a lower hearing disability and those with fewer cognitive failures
were more likely to report positive experiences associated with having tinnitus.
Conclusions: This study has identified that personal development and a positive
outlook are possible despite experiencing tinnitus. Ways to facilitate positive experi-
ences related to tinnitus should be promoted, as these may reduce the negative
consequences associated with tinnitus. The most prevalent positive theme was the
ability to cope with tinnitus. Positive experiences were also drawn from having clini-
cal and other support networks. This highlights the importance of providing tinnitus
interventions that can assist people in coping with tinnitus, particularly to those less
likely to relate tinnitus to any positive experiences. Those most likely to be helped
include those who are older with greater cognitive difficulties and a greater hearing
Tinnitus is defined as the percept of sound in the absence of a corre-
sponding external stimuli.
It is highly prevalent, affecting an estimated
10%-17% of the adult population across the globe.
Despite its preva-
lence, a cure to permanently abolish tinnitus is yet to be found.
tion, this chronic condition can be debilitating due to various secondary
consequences, including insomnia, reduced concentration, anxiety and
Accepted: 29 September 2017
Clinical Otolaryngology. 2018;43:489–495. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/coa © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd