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01-03-2013 | Uitgave 2/2013

Quality of Life Research 2/2013

Psychological comorbidity in patients with chronic tinnitus: analysis and comparison with chronic pain, asthma or atopic dermatitis patients

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 2/2013
N. Zirke, C. Seydel, A. J. Szczepek, H. Olze, H. Haupt, B. Mazurek


To determine the prevalence and severity of psychological comorbidity in patients with chronic tinnitus in comparison with other chronic illnesses, namely chronic pain, chronic asthma and atopic dermatitis.


Psychological diagnoses were done according to ICD-10 Chapter V(F). Subjective impairment was evaluated using 5 psychometric questionnaires: tinnitus questionnaire, Berlin mood questionnaire, sense of coherence (SOC-L9) and perceived stress questionnaire. Sleep disturbance was measured by the subdomain ‘exhaustion’ of the Giessen physical complaints inventory.


Somatoform or affective disorders were most frequent in all disease groups. Patients with chronic tinnitus had a stronger SOC and better subjective mood, stronger commitment, and less anger and anxious depression than the patients with chronic pain, chronic asthma or atopic dermatitis. However, in patients with higher tinnitus annoyance, psychological comorbidity was similar to that found in patients with other chronic diseases.


Besides collecting medical and social history, special psychometric instruments should be used for the diagnosis of tinnitus patients. Based on relative high frequency of psychological comorbidity, we recommend interdisciplinary cooperation between otorhinolaryngologists and other specialists (psychosomatic medicine, psychology or psychiatry) during the treatment of tinnitus patients, especially when high degree of tinnitus annoyance is involved.

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