Purpose: Tinnitus, or the perception of sounds that occur without an external sound source, is a prevalent condition worldwide. For a subset of adults, tinnitus causes significant distress and impairment. Several patient-reported outcome measures have been developed to assess severity of tinnitus distress. However, at present, the field lacks a brief measure that is sensitive to treatment change. The purpose of the current study was to develop and preliminarily validate a brief questionnaire for tinnitus severity from two existing measures of tinnitus-related distress, the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI).
Method: Using data from nine study samples in the United States and United Kingdom, we conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to identify a short measure with good psychometric properties. We also assessed sensitivity to treatment-related change by examining associations with change in the TFI and THI. Finally, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis of the final short questionnaire in a new sample of adults seeking treatment for tinnitus-related distress.
Results: We identified 10 items from the THI and TFI that exhibited limited loadings on secondary factors. The resulting Tinnitus Severity Short Form (TS-SF) achieved good to excellent fit, including in a unique sample of individuals seeking online treatment for tinnitus, and appeared sensitive to treatment-related change.
Conclusions: The TS-SF developed in the current study may be a useful tool for the assessment of subjective severity and distress associated with tinnitus, especially when patient burden is a concern. Further research is necessary to fully validate the questionnaire for the assessment of treatment-related change.