Evidence-based research set to shape future tinnitus studies – The James Lind Alliance Tinnitus Priority Setting Partnership

Chief investigator

Professor Deborah Hall

Study team

Najibah Mohamad

British Tinnitus Association
and other members of the Steering Group

Funder

Judi Meadows Memorial Fund (part funding)

Study period

2011-2012

We have collaborated with the James Lind Alliance and the British Tinnitus Association to work with patients and clinicians to identify and prioritise unanswered questions about tinnitus treatment. The goal is to help people cope with the distress that tinnitus causes and attempt to improve their quality of life. Our priority setting partnership included the following organisations: British Academy of Audiology, British Society of Audiology, British Association of Otorhinolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, Deafness Research UK, Alliance on Hearing Loss and Action on Hearing Loss.

The process of choosing the uncertainties began in September 2011, with patients and clinicians submitting the questions that they would like to see researched. More than 2,500 questions were subsequently posed. A pooling and filtering process then took place removing anything previously researched leaving 393 questions. This long list was refined to 170 by removing those questions selected by only one or two people. These were then distributed within the tinnitus community so that patients and clinicians could choose their top ten. A shortlist was produced from these responses and discussed at a meeting in London on 16 July 2012 where both patients and clinicians finally agreed on the top ten. It is hoped that these will be a catalyst for more tinnitus research and encourage researchers to rise to the challenge of addressing the priorities.

Over 180 tinnitus uncertainties have been published on the NHS Evidence, 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.

Dissemination includes an Open Access journal paper (Hall et al., 2013), a list of the top 10 published in an invited seminar review (The Lancet, 2013 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2813%2960142-7/abstract), an invited keynote lecture at the  British Society of Audiology (BSA) Conference on 5 September 2012, and wide dissemination to the public (plain English report published by British Tinnitus Association and CLAHRC-NDL bite) and professional bodies (Action on Hearing Loss, Deafness Research UK, British Tinnitus Association, British Society of Audiology etc).

Professor Deb Hall, Director, said: “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.”

David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the British Tinnitus Association said “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.”