In research

Proud to host the 10th international Tinnitus Research Initiative and 1st TINNET conference

The 2016 Tinnitus Research Initiative conference was hosted 16-18 March in Nottingham by our unit and MRC Institute of Hearing Research. Dr Winny Schlee opened the conference to share current understanding on different types of tinnitus. This was for the inaugural EU Cost Action TINNET meeting, a network of tinnitus researchers across Europe sharing expertise.

Other world-renowned tinnitus researchers giving keynote talks included Royal Society Fellow Karl Friston, Clinical Psychologist Gerhard Andersson and Addenbrookes Director of Audiology David Baguley.

A number of our own staff took the opportunity to share their work, including Kathryn Fackrell on the Tinnitus Functional Index, Kate Greenwell on an internet-based tinnitus self-management programme,  Adam McNamara on the shortcomings of electroencephalography for measuring tinnitus treatment effects and Dean Thompson on developing audiologist-delivered counselling.

Prof Charles Liberman from Harvard Medical School concluded proceedings with his influential work which challenges received wisdom that damage to cochlea hair cells leads to tinnitus.

International award for hearing loss ‘brain training’ research paper

                  From left: Helen Henshaw, Mel Ferguson, Dave Moore

Researchers from the Habilitation for Hearing Loss team were awarded the Ear and Hearing Editor’s Award for the best paper published in the journal in 2014. The award was presented at the 42nd American Auditory Society annual conference in Arizona, US.

The research aimed to identify the benefits of auditory training (listening games) to improve speech understanding for adults with hearing loss. Dr Melanie Ferguson led the research. She said: “Our overall aim in carrying out research studies like this is to help people with hearing loss overcome their hearing difficulties, and make better use of their hearing in their everyday life. Our study showed some novel results, which suggest that training the auditory system seems to also train the brain. It’s a bit like going to the gym, except it is the auditory system — which includes the brain — that is being exercised.

You can read a summary of the research, and access the original article at www.hearing.nihr.ac.uk/research/benefits-of-auditory-training-for-people-with-hearing-loss

The James Lind Alliance (JLA) Tinnitus Priority Setting Partnership top 10 uncertainties influence research and funding

Much has happened since members of the public and healthcare providers first worked with us to identify the top 10 research uncertainties for tinnitus. The top 10 have indeed become a priority for funders and researchers alike. Notable examples include:

“Is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), delivered by audiology professionals, effective for people with tinnitus? Here comparisons might be with usual audiological care or CBT delivered by a psychologist”.

“What management strategies are more effective than a usual model of audiological care in improving outcomes for people with tinnitus?”

“What type of digital hearing aid or amplification strategy provides the most effective tinnitus relief?”

“What is the link between tinnitus and hyperacusis (over-sensitivity to sounds)?”

Top ten tinnitus research uncertainties

  1. What management strategies are more effective than a usual model of audiological care in improving outcomes for people with tinnitus?
  2. Is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), delivered by audiology professionals, effective for people with tinnitus? Here comparisons might be with usual audiological care or CBT delivered by a psychologist.
  3. What management strategies are more effective for improving tinnitus-related insomnia than a usual model of care?
  4. Do any of the various available complementary therapies provide improved outcome for people with tinnitus compared with a usual model of care?
  5. What type of digital hearing aid or amplification strategy provides the most effective tinnitus relief?
  6. What is the optimal set of guidelines for assessing children with tinnitus?
  7. How can tinnitus be effectively managed in people who are Deaf or who have a profound hearing loss?
  8. Are there different types of tinnitus and can they be explained by different mechanisms in the ear or brain?
  9. What is the link between tinnitus and hyperacusis (over-sensitivity to sounds)?
  10. Which medications have proven to be effective in tinnitus management compared with placebo?

The final ten tinnitus uncertainties were launched at the British Society of Audiology (BSA) Conference on 5-7 September 2012. The full list of tinnitus uncertainties is included in the UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments (UK DUETs). UK DUETs publishes treatment uncertainties from patients, carers, clinicians, and from research recommendations, covering a wide variety of health problems. 

The outcomes from this project provide a much needed boost to tinnitus research because they identify specific questions for scientists to address that will bring about real patient benefit

Deborah Hall Director of NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU

I am delighted with the top ten research uncertainties that have been selected. They represent a clear focus for future research as well as really capturing the questions that are important for patients and clinicians alike... Working with NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU on the James Lind Alliance Tinnitus Priority Setting Partnership gave a unique opportunity for a patient-led organisation to work with a BRU to deliver a project that was important to the whole of the tinnitus community – patients, clinicians and researchers. NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU demonstrated a huge commitment to the project enabling it to be delivered within a challenging timescale

David Stockdale Chief Executive of the British Tinnitus Association