The efficacy of hearing aid provision for tinnitus

Chief investigator

Dr Magdalena Sereda

Study team

Professor Deborah Hall
Mark Edmondson-Jones
Richard Nicholson

Tendai Ngwerume (Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

Funder

NIHR Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit

Study period

2014-2019

In most cases tinnitus is associated with some degree of hearing loss and is most likely the result of hearing-loss related changes in the brain (Sereda et al., 2011; Sereda et al., 2015). In the UK hearing aids are a first-line of audiological intervention for someone who has tinnitus and aidable hearing loss (Hoare et al., 2013). Hearing aids might be given to:

• overcome hearing loss,
• improve communication, which may reduce stress and anxiety often associated with tinnitus,
• enhance the loudness of everyday sounds which might ‘drown out’ the tinnitus.

However, there is a lack of robust evidence showing that hearing aids are more effective in alleviating tinnitus than standard care, which comprises education and reassurance (Hoare et al., 2014). The direct consequence is unequal access to treatment as decisions to offer hearing aids and combination hearing aids are based on anecdotal evidence and personal experiences of clinicians.

We are currently looking to obtain external funding to investigate whether providing digital hearing aids for patients who have tinnitus and mild hearing loss is more effective that education and reassurance alone (standard care). Patients will take part in a randomized controlled trial, which offers the strongest method for reliably assessing the effect of an intervention. We will also analyse the cost of using hearing aids versus the benefits gained, to gauge value for money.