Manchaiah, V., Chundu, C., Ratinaud, R., Anderson, G., & Beukes, E.W.
Audiology Research, 13(2), 207-220.
Publication year: 2023

Objective: Social representations theory (SRT) is a body of theory within social psychology concerned with how individuals, groups, and communities collectively make sense of socially relevant or problematic issues, ideas, and practices. SRT has been increasingly sued in the area of health and disability. The current study examined the social representations of ‘tinnitus’ and ‘health’ among individuals with tinnitus who are seeking online psychological interventions. Materials/Method: The data were gathered using a free association task about their “tinnitus” and “health” from 399 individuals with tinnitus.  The data were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative analyses methods. Results: The responses resulted in 39 and 30 categories respectively, for ‘tinnitus’ and ‘health’. The most commonly occurring categories for tinnitus included: descriptions of tinnitus (18%), annoying (13.5%), persistent (8%), and distracting (5%). The most commonly occurring categories for health included: content (12%), conditions (8%), active (7%), take control (6%), and overweight (5%). The responses to tinnitus had predominantly negative connotations (i.e., 76.9%) whereas a larger proportion of responses towards their health was related to positive connotations (i.e., 46.4%). These frequently occurring items were also dominant in similarities analysis. Prototypical analysis of tinnitus responses identified categories horrible and bothersome to be key items in the central zone. The categories in central zone of health responses included: content, active, healthy, grateful, and overweight. Conclusion: Individuals with tinnitus have very negative view of their tinnitus impacting their psychological status. Tinnitus management should focus on reducing the negative associations towards their tinnitus and strengthen the positive aspects related to their general health.