Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The natural history of subjective tinnitus in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of ‘no-intervention’ periods in controlled trials

Phillips, John; McFerran, Don; Hall, Deborah A.; Hoare, Derek J.

The natural history of subjective tinnitus in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of ‘no-intervention’ periods in controlled trials Thumbnail


John Phillips

Don McFerran

Deborah A. Hall

Associate Professor in Hearing Sciences



Tinnitus is a prevalent condition, but little has been published regarding the natural history of the condition. One technique for evaluating the long-term progression of the disease is to examine what happens to participants in the no-intervention control arm of a clinical trial. The aim of this study was to examine no-intervention or waiting-list data reported in trials, in which participants on the active arm received any form of tinnitus intervention.
Data Sources

CINAHL, PsychINFO, EMBASE, ASSIA, PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, EBSCO Host, and Cochrane.

Inclusion criteria followed the PICOS principles: Participants, adults with tinnitus; Intervention, none; Control, any intervention for alleviating tinnitus; Outcomes, a measure assessing tinnitus symptoms using a multi-item patient-reported tinnitus questionnaire. Secondary outcome measures included multi-item patient-reported questionnaires of mood and health-related quality of life and measures that quantified change in tinnitus loudness; Study design, randomized controlled trials or observational studies utilizing a no-intervention or waiting-list control group. Data were extracted and standardized mean difference was calculated for each study to enable meta-analysis.

The evidence strongly favored a statistically significant decrease in the impact of tinnitus over time, though there was significant heterogeneity and clinical significance cannot be interpreted. Outcome data regarding secondary measures did not demonstrate any clinically significant change.

Participants allocated to the no-intervention or waiting-list control arm of clinical trials for a tinnitus intervention show a small but significant improvement in self-reported measures of tinnitus with time; the clinical significance of this finding is unknown. There is, however, considerable variation across individuals. These findings support previous work and can cautiously be used when counseling patients.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 6, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 20, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 21, 2017
Journal Laryngoscope
Print ISSN 0023-852X
Electronic ISSN 1531-4995
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 128
Issue 1
Keywords Tinnitus; natural history; outcomes; control; waiting list
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations