Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (ICBT) for Tinnitus in the U.S

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Objectives: Although tinnitus is one of the most commonly-reported symptoms in the general population, patients with bothersome tinnitus are challenged by issues related accessibility of care, and intervention options that lack strong evidence to support their use. Therefore, creative ways of delivering evidence- based interventions are necessary. This presentation focuses on the adaptation of an Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (ICBT) intervention, originally used in Sweden and in the UK, for individuals with tinnitus in the United States. Elements of the ICBT program requiring consideration included (a) adaptations to the platform’s features and functionalities, (b) translation into Spanish to extend the reach of the program (c) user acceptability and satisfaction of the program, (d) outcomes from a pilot trial from which it was hypothesized that patients would demonstrate a reduction in tinnitus distress and associated difficulties as measures using standardized self-reported outcome measures, and (e) discussion of the relative merits and appropriateness of the intervention.

Design: The iTerapi platform developed in Sweden was adopted for use in the US. The platform required functional and security features modifications to confirm its compliance with both institutional and governmental regulations, and to ensure it was suitable for the US population. Acceptability and suitability of the materials were evaluated by both hearing healthcare professionals (n=11) andindividuals with tinnitus (n=8). A pilot study followed as adults with bothersome tinnitus completed the 8-week program (n=30).

Results: Cultural adaptations included word substitutions, adapting counseling examples for a US population, and modifying the spelling of certain words. The materials were then translated into Spanish and cross-checked. Professional review ensured the suitability of the chapters. Literacy level analysis confirmed all chapters were within the guidelines to be below the 6th grade level for readability. Healthcare professionals and individuals with tinnitus reported favorable acceptance and satisfaction ratings regarding the content, suitability, presentation, usability and exercises provided in the ICBT platform. Preliminary analyses of pilot data indicated a reduction in tinnitus distress and associated difficulties (i.e., anxiety, depression, insomnia) and an improvement in quality of life.

Conclusions: Ensuring that the ePlatform offers the appropriate features and functionalities for the intended population is an essential part of developing Internet-based intervention. The user evaluations and pilot trial outcomes indicated that clinical trials can be performed to assess the effectiveness of ICBT for tinnitus in the US.


Scottsdale, AZ

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