Background: Internet-based interventions are emerging as an alternative way of delivering accessible healthcare for various conditions including hearing and balance disorders. A comprehensive review regarding the evidence-base of Internet-based interventions for auditory-related conditions is required to determine the existing evidence of their efficacy and effectiveness. The objective of the current protocol is to provide the methodology for a systematic review regarding the effects of Internet-based interventions for adults with hearing loss, tinnitus and vestibular disorders.
Method: This protocol was developed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analyses for Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 guidelines. Electronic database searches will include EBSCOhost, PubMed and Cochrane Central Register performed by two researchers. This will be complemented by searching other resources such as the reference lists for included studies to identify studies meeting the eligibility for inclusion with regard to study designs, participants, interventions, comparators and outcomes. The Cochrane risk of bias tool (RoB 2) for randomised trials will be used for the bias assessments in the included studies. Criteria for conducting meta-analyses were defined.
Discussion: The result of this systematic review will be of value to establish the effects of Internet-based interventions for hearing loss, tinnitus and vestibular disorders. This will be of importance to guide future planning of auditory intervention research and clinical services by healthcare providers, researchers, consumers and stakeholders.
Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42018094801