When the ringing in the ears gets unbearable: Illness representations, self-instructions and adjustment to tinnitus.

Research paper by Manja M Vollmann, Natallia N Kalkouskaya, Berthold B Langguth, Margreet M Scharloo

Indexed on: 14 Jul '12Published on: 14 Jul '12Published in: Journal of Psychosomatic Research


Chronic tinnitus can severely impair a person's quality of life. The degree of impairment, however, is not closely related to tinnitus loudness. Applying the common sense model (CSM) of self-regulation of health and illness, this study investigated to what extent psychological factors, i.e. illness representations and positive/negative self-instructions, are associated with the degree of tinnitus-related complaints.In this cross-sectional study, 118 patients diagnosed with chronic tinnitus filled in questionnaires assessing illness representations (IPQ-R), positive and negative self-instructions (TRSS), and tinnitus-related complaints (TQ).The regression analysis yielded a number of significant associations between illness representations and tinnitus-related complaints, particularly for the IPQ-R dimensions identity, consequences, coherence, and emotional representations. With regard to self-instructions and tinnitus-related complaints, significant effects were found only for negative self-instructions. Moreover, multiple mediation analyses revealed that the effects of consequences and emotional representations on tinnitus-related complaints were (partially) due to the use of negative self-instructions.Psychological factors are strongly related to the extent of tinnitus-related complaints. The findings provide an indication of which aspects should be targeted in psychological and psychotherapeutic tinnitus treatment.