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Lim JJBH, Lu PKS, Koh DSQ, Eng SP
Correspondence: Ms Lim Bee Hong Joyce Jeanne, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction The effects of tinnitus on quality of life (QOL) have never been extensively studied in Singapore. We describe the characteristics of tinnitus and its impact on QOL as measured by the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) in a series of ear, nose and throat clinic patients.
Methods A total of 327 patients who attended a tinnitus counselling clinic completed the THI questionnaire, a self-report measure with 25 items grouped into functional, emotional and catastrophic subscales.
Results The mean age of the 134 female and 193 male patients was 48.9 years. 36.7 percent of these patients had bilateral tinnitus and 64.6 percent had symptoms for less than one year. 270 patients had hearing loss, 74 percent of whom presented with bilateral high frequency hearing loss. Most patients (84.1 percent) perceived only one type of sound. The total THI score distribution was: 107 (33 percent) patients had THI less than 16, 100 (31 percent) had THI 18 to 36, 59 (18 percent) had THI 38 to 56, and 61 (19 percent) had THI more than 58. There were no differences in the overall THI and subscale scores between the patients’ gender, those with or without hearing loss, and those with unilateral or bilateral tinnitus. However, significantly higher total THI and all subscale scores were found among patients who were hearing more than one type of tinnitus sound. The areas of concern that were commonly reported by the patients in this series were a lack of control over tinnitus, frustration and stress.
Conclusion Tinnitus patients who hear multiple sounds tend to have a higher THI and subscale scores. The management of tinnitus should address common areas of concern, and may include counselling. The THI is a potential screening tool to determine if patients require counselling. A series of THI assessments can be used to chart the progress of treatment.
Keywords: quality of life, tinnitus, Tinnitus Handicap Inventory
Singapore Med J 2010; 51(7): 551-557