Purpose: Clinical services for tinnitus are needed by millions of people annually. These services have not been standardized, and patients are vulnerable to receiving services that may appear legitimate but are not based on research evidence. The purpose of this clinical focus article is to promote standardization of tinnitus services by proposing an efficient clinical protocol for audiologists. Method: The suggested clinical protocol is based primarily on research conducted at the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research for the past 2 decades, with the focus on 2 randomized controlled trials completed recently that showed efficacy of an audiologic protocol involving hearing aids and brief tinnitus counseling. The protocol is mostly consistent with clinical practice guidelines that have been published. Results: The two National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research randomized controlled trials revealed significant reduction of tinnitus functional effects for both hearing aids and “combination instruments” (hearing aids with a built-in sound generator), although there were no significant differences between devices. Existing clinical practice guidelines for tinnitus are summarized with respect to their common recommendations for assessment and intervention. Conclusions: A defined clinical protocol is suggested for audiologists, which includes a case history, appropriate referral, audiologic assessment, use of the Tinnitus and Hearing Survey (Henry, Griest, et al., 2015), brief tinnitus counseling, hearing aids or combination instruments as warranted, follow-up assessment, and criteria for determining if further tinnitus-specific services are needed. Use of this protocol can help to promote standardization of tinnitus practice by audiologists.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing