Background: Tinnitus severity has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and those with tinnitus require additional support. Such support should be informed by patient preferences and needs. The objective of this study was to gather information from individuals with tinnitus living in Europe to inform stakeholders of the (i) support they needed in relation to changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and (ii) suggestions regarding tinnitus care for the future.
Methods: A cross-sectional mixed methods study design was used using closed and open-ended questions via an online survey. Data was gathered from 710 adults experiencing tinnitus in Western Europe, with the majority living in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis and descriptive statistics.
Results: Those with tinnitus indicated the following support needs during the pandemic (a) support for tinnitus, (b) support for hearing-related difficulties, (c) social support, and (d) pandemic-related support. Five directions for future tinnitus care were provided, namely (a) need for understanding professional support and access to multidisciplinary experts, (b) greater range of therapies and resources, (c) access to more information about tinnitus, (d) prioritizing tinnitus research, and (e) more support for hearing protection and hearing loss prevention
Conclusions: The findings point to the need for accessible (remote), patient-centred, suitable and evidence-based tinnitus care. Insights from the current study can be used by various stakeholders including clinical practitioners and tinnitus support services to ensure those with tinnitus have access to the help and support required in order to reduce service provision insufficiencies.