Beukes, E.W., Manchaiah, V., Baguley, D.M., Allen, P.A. & Andersson, G.A.
Trends in Hearing, 3:2331216519851749. doi: 10.1177/2331216519851749.
Publication year: 2019

Abstract

Internet-based interventions have been developed to improve access to audiovestibular health care. This review aimed to identify outcomes of Internet interventions for adults with hearing loss, tinnitus, and vestibular disorders. Electronic databases and manual searches were performed to identify studies meeting eligibility for inclusion. Fifteen studies (1,811 participants) met the inclusion criteria, with nine studies targeting tinnitus distress, five considering hearing loss, and one for vestibular difficulties. Only the tinnitus and hearing loss Internet intervention studies were eligible for data synthesis. Internet-based interventions for hearing loss were diverse. Overall, they showed no significant effects, although a statistically significant moderate effect (d = 0.59) was found after removing the study with the highest risk of bias (as a result of high attrition). Most Internet-based interventions for tinnitus provided cognitive behavioural therapy. They yielded statistically significant mean effect sizes for reducing tinnitus distress compared with both inactive (d = 0.59) and active controls (d = 0.32). Significant effects were also present for the secondary outcomes of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and quality of life (combined effect d = 0.28). Only Internet-based interventions for tinnitus evaluated the 1-year postintervention effects indicated that results were maintained long term (d = 0.45). Scientific study quality was appraised using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach and found to vary from very low to moderate. This review indicates the potential of Internet interventions for tinnitus to provide evidence-based accessible care. There is a need for additional high-quality evidence before conclusive results can be established regarding the effects of audiovestibular Internet interventions.