British Tinnitus Association – Mapping the Apps for Tinnitus

Tinnitus Patient Groups

Estimates vary wildly on the prevalence of tinnitus, from 8% for the general population up to 30% for those over 60. As I write this, I’m aware of a persistent whistling in my ears, but I’m one of the lucky ones. Diagnosed over 30 years ago, my tinnitus is very mild, and most of the time I don’t notice it’s there. Patient groups on both sides of the Atlantic are helping to connect individuals with the right apps and other practical sources of support for their tinnitus.

British Tinnitus Association

We’re well used to the biggest patient groups commissioning and funding research, but it’s far more challenging for smaller groups like the British Tinnitus Association. Remarkably, they’ve recently managed to map the world of tinnitus research, identify critical gaps, and partner on a number of research projects including:

  • Teaming up with the musicians’ charity ‘Help Musicians UK’ to investigate the impact of tinnitus on musicians, who are at risk because of regular exposure to high sound levels
  • Investigating the link between anxiety in children with tinnitus and heightened sensitivity to sounds (hyperacusis)
  • Studying the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treating insomnia common with tinnitus.
Mapping the apps

Last year the British Tinnitus Association’s research director, Dr Magdalena Sereda published a study to:

  • “Generate the list of apps that people use for management of their tinnitus
  • Explore reasons for app use and non-use
  • Perform quality assessment of the most cited apps
  • Perform content analysis to explore and describe options and management techniques available in the most cited apps.”
  • Dr Magdalena Sereda, Head of British Tinnitus Association Research

All these objectives could provide a model for other patient communities identifying support available from apps.

Connection challenge

The research was based around a survey of 643 people with tinnitus. It found that 75% had never used an app for managing their tinnitus, most of these (60%) because they did not know about them. A clear reason for patient groups to be the expert reviewers, commissioners and awareness-raisers for trusted apps.

The 55 apps that were used by the surveyed patient community focused both on relief of the immediate symptoms through sounds to mask the noises, through to apps for related conditions, such as sleep disorders, anxiety or depression.

The study maps in detail the function and quality of the most-cited apps and acts as a comprehensive overview of which ones the patient community uses.

American Tinnitus Association – One-stop app shop

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) offers a very compact, economic and neat solution to help people find patient apps. They have reused a page as a PDF from their magazine ‘Tinnitus Today’, which contains links to 8 sounds apps and 4 apps focused on sleep and relaxation. The apps were selected by an audiologist who has tinnitus.

By embedding links to all 12 apps in a single PDF page, the Association makes it easy to click on each app to browse, and then return to the original guide. Also, because it’s a PDF, it’s very easy to save on your devices for later use.

Navigating treatment

The ATA also has a cost-effective format for helping people get started on managing their tinnitus and finding support. Their ‘patient navigator’ combines a single flow chart including key actions and questions at each step with a scrolling page for more detail. Again, it’s a neat, concise model for patient groups wanting to offer topline guidance on the patient’s journey, including the role of different types of healthcare professionals.

Next steps:

Download the British Tinnitus Association research study into apps available to tinnitus patients…

Click here

Download the American Tinnitus Association guide on tinnitus apps…

Click here

View the American Tinnitus Association Patient Navigator at…

Click here

Visit for patient group recommendations on tinnitus apps

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