BRU researchers win prize from the British Tinnitus Association

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                                        Marie & Jack Shapiro Prize Winner 2015 announced

                                                EMBARGOED UNTIL 23 SEPTEMBER 2015

22 September 2015 The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) has presented the prestigious industry award, the Marie & Jack Shapiro Prize, to a collaborative team of tinnitus clinicians and researchers. Dr Laurence McKenna, Lucy Handscomb, Dr Derek Hoare and Professor Deb Hall have been awarded the prize for their paper ‘A scientific cognitive-behavioral model of tinnitus: novel conceptualizations of tinnitus distress’. The prize and £250 cash was awarded at the BTA’s 22nd Annual Conference in Manchester on 23 September 2015, which was attended by audiologists, hearing professionals, researchers and BTA members.

The Marie & Jack Shapiro Prize is given each year at the BTA Conference to the piece of published research, by a UK based author, ‘most likely to result in improved treatment or public awareness of tinnitus,’ that was published in the last calendar year. The prize is named after the late Jack Shapiro, the founder of the British Tinnitus Association, and his wife Marie, who both played an important role in the establishment of the charity and in raising awareness of tinnitus.

The team’s paper was one of 14 shortlisted for the prize. The judging panel was formed of the BTA’s Professional Advisers’ Committee. The judges considered that the paper provides “a good overview of a theoretical model of tinnitus that will hopefully provide the foundation for further research into how people with tinnitus perceive, respond to and manage their condition. This model should inform future research in the area.”

In the paper, the team critically reviewed the evidence relevant to a new psychological model of tinnitus. This model suggests that patients’ interpretations of tinnitus and the changes in behaviour that result are given a central role in creating and maintaining distress. The importance of selective attention and the possibility that this leads to distorted perception of tinnitus were highlighted. From this body of evidence, the authors proposed a coherent cognitive-behavioural model of tinnitus distress that is more in keeping with contemporary psychological theories of clinical problems. This new model provides testable hypotheses to guide future research to unravel the complex mechanisms underpinning tinnitus distress and to provide a framework for the delivery of cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Prize winner Professor Deb Hall, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit said: “The germ of the idea to work together on this project was sown way back in 2010, when I heard Laurence [McKenna] present his model at a conference in Dallas, Texas. This article is the culmination of what has been a really stimulating collaboration bringing together perspectives from clinical psychology, hearing therapy and scientific research. What we’re proposing for the first time is a coherent model of tinnitus distress that is more in keeping with contemporary psychological theories of clinical problems than the traditional neurophysiological model of tinnitus. We hope that this will be useful not only in the clinic, but also in research to help people to unravel the complexities of tinnitus distress. We’re delighted to receive this award from the British Tinnitus Association in recognition of the value of our work. ”

David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the British Tinnitus Association, said: “We are delighted that a paper which has a clear clinical benefit for people with tinnitus has been awarded the Marie & Jack Shapiro Prize. There were many very interesting and highly commendable research papers in the running this year, and we are very grateful to all those who have undertaken research into tinnitus with the aim of improving the quality of life for those with the condition, developing existing knowledge and understanding about the causes of tinnitus.”

He continued: “The winning paper was published in The Journal of Neuroscience and has been recognised as making a big impact as it describes a novel model of hidden hearing loss. It is vital that such research into tinnitus continues so that one day a cure for tinnitus can be developed.”

Reference: McKenna L, Handscomb L, Hoare DJ, Hall DA, ‘A scientific cognitive-behavioral model of tinnitus: novel conceptualizations of tinnitus distress’, Frontiers in Neurology, 2014, doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00196

Editors Notes

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) is an independent charity which supports thousands of people who experience tinnitus and advises medical professionals from across the world.

The BTA is the primary source of support and information for people with tinnitus in the UK, facilitating an improved quality of life.
They aim to encourage prevention through its educational programme and to seek effective treatment for tinnitus through a medical research programme.
The support the BTA offers to 335,000 people per year who are affected by tinnitus is reliant upon the generous donations of their supporters and fundraisers. They receive no government support and need to raise half a million pounds each year to continue their UK wide support. Donations can be made via

Not an illness or disease, tinnitus is a term that describes the sensation of hearing a noise in the absence of an external sound. The noise can have virtually any quality. Ringing, whistling, and buzzing are common, but more complex sounds may also be reported. Troublesome tinnitus can be very distressing for the affected individual, and issues may arise with sleep, concentration and mood. However, in many cases, subtle changes in people’s environment can address these issues, and improve quality of life.

The experienced team at the BTA understands the impact that tinnitus can have on the lives of those who experience tinnitus and those who live with them, so seeks to provide the most appropriate and expert advice and information free of charge – via a confidential freephone helpline on 0800 018 0527 and online at The BTA can also post printed and audio information and advice.

Visit the BTA’s Facebook page at and follow the BTA on Twitter at

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.

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