The Emotional and Functional Impact of the Type of Tinnitus Sensation

John Moring, Anne Bowen, Jenifer Thomas, Lindsay Bira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


One to three percent of individuals with tinnitus experience significant reduction in quality of life. Factors that contribute to distress include personality variables, intolerance to loud noises, external locus of control, and pre-existing anxiety. Characteristics of tinnitus itself, such as perceived loudness, can also cause functional impairment. It is unknown whether different tinnitus sensations have various effects on either emotional or functional impairment, which can reduce quality of life. While audiological tests can determine pitch and loudness of tinnitus, questionnaires also can be easily used to assess subjective characteristics of tinnitus. In this study, 370 participants, recruited via email from a national tinnitus organization, completed online surveys that assessed tinnitus-related distress and provided qualitative descriptions of their tinnitus sensation. Self-reports of tinnitus sensation were rated by five independent coders, with excellent agreement. Individuals who reported a combination of tinnitus sensations were found to experience significantly more functional impairment and avoidant behavior. Future research should utilize more sophisticated approaches to categorize individuals’ tinnitus sensation and to examine associated emotional and functional differences. Providers should appropriately refer patients for tinnitus management and empirically-supported therapies aimed at reducing tinnitus related distress and functional impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-318
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Avoidant behavior
  • Emotional distress
  • Impairment
  • Tinnitus
  • Type of tinnitus sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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