Beukes, E.W., Andersson, G., & Manchaiah, V.
Audiology Research, 13(3), 378-388.
Publication year: 2023

Although chronic conditions could cause third-party disability for significant others (SOs), little is known regarding the impact of tinnitus on SO. This study aimed to identify the effects of tinnitus on SOs. SOs of individuals with tinnitus were invited to participate in this study. SOs completed three open-ended questions focusing on the effects of tinnitus. Individuals with tinnitus completed the Tinnitus Functional Index as a self-reported measure of tinnitus severity. A mixed-methods analysis approach was undertaken. Of the 156 SOs responding, 127 (85%) reported that tinnitus impacted them. The impact surrounded sound adjustments, activity limitations, additional demands, emotional toll, and helplessness. Tinnitus negatively affected the relationship for 92 (58%) due to communication frustrations and growing apart. When asked if tinnitus had any positive effects, 64 (47%) SOs reported positive lifestyle adaptions, personal development, health awareness, and a changed outlook. There was no association between the level of tinnitus severity and SOs reporting that tinnitus had an impact on them individually, their relationships, or those reporting positive experiences. The study highlighted the third-party disability many SOs of individuals with tinnitus experience. The results indicate that SOs may benefit from a shared intervention to help mitigate the negative effects through a better understanding of tinnitus.