Reflections on how tinnitus impacts the lives of children and adolescents

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Objectives The aim of this study was to generate a conceptual framework describing which aspects of children and adolescents' lives are affected by chronic tinnitus. Design Views and experiences of 32 participants from two participant groups informed this study: (a) a tinnitus group, consisting of adults who had experienced tinnitus during childhood and/or adolescence and primary carers of children/adolescents with tinnitus, and (b) a clinicians' group, consisting of clinicians who provided care for children/adolescents with tinnitus. Participants produced statements describing aspects of children/adolescents' lives that may be affected by chronic tinnitus. Key concepts were identified through the processes of sorting the statements and rating them for degree of associated impact. Result Participants identified 118 unique aspects of the lives of children/adolescents who may be affected by chronic tinnitus. These were clustered into four concepts: (a) emotional well-being, (b) academic performances, (c) social/relationa, and (d) auditory/cognitive processing. At a group level, participants rated the impact of tinnitus as above a slight degree but below a moderate degree of impact. However, individual participant's ratings indicated a range of perceived impact for each statement. Conclusions The experience of chronic tinnitus during childhood and adolescence extends beyond the mere perception of sound. The perception of tinnitus may impact a child's emotional well-being, academic performances, social/relational, and auditory/cognitive processing. The impact of tinnitus in one aspect of a child's life may influence other aspects of their life. While at a group level, participants regarded the impact of tinnitus as "somewhat more than mild" to "less than moderate"; individual participant's ratings indicate that the impact from chronic tinnitus may be highly individual and highlighted the importance of individual assessment and management. Clinically, tinnitus management during childhood and adolescence may be improved if clinicians consider the impact and manifestation of tinnitus within each child's daily life and tailor tinnitus education and management strategies accordingly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544 - 556
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Audiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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