According to a recent study published in Hearing Research, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is effective in reducing tinnitus severity. Tinnitus is an auditory disorder that affects 5-15% of adults in industrialized nations. Though tinnitus has physical origins, it also has heavy emotional and cognitive components.
This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of CBT for patients suffering from tinnitus using a parallel group-controlled trial. Participants (n=286) consisted of patients who had been suffering from tinnitus for at least 4 months. These patients were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (n=166) to receive a standardized tinnitus-specific CBT treatment, or a wait-list control group (n=120). The primary outcome measure used in this study was the tinnitus change score. Secondary outcome measures were the tinnitus severity score, tinnitus loudness score, and tinnitus annoyance score.
According to results, 84% of participants in the treatment group showed an improvement in tinnitus scores, compared to only 22% in the control group. All three secondary outcome measures (tinnitus severity score, tinnitus loudness score, and tinnitus annoyance score) also indicated significant improvement among participants in the CBT group compared to the control group. In fact, the treatment group showed a reduction of 50% in tinnitus severity; no change was observed in the control group.
These results suggest that structured tinnitus-specific CBT can be an effective treatment for patients suffering from chronic tinnitus. Although more research is necessary, these findings are promising for patients with tinnitus, as pharmacological and other treatments for the disorder are not well established or evidence-based.
Zenner, H.-P., Vonthein, R., Zenner, B., Leuchtweis, R., Plontke, S. K., Torka, W., Pogge, S.,Birbaumer, N. (2012). Standardized tinnitus-specific individual cognitive-behavioral therapy: A controlled outcome study with 286 tinnitus patients. Hearing Research.