Patient preferences and willingness to pay for tinnitus treatments

J Am Acad Audiol. 2012 Feb;23(2):115-25. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.23.2.6.


Purpose: There will likely be several different tinnitus treatments necessary, and it is important to understand patient preferences and factors that might contribute to treatment acceptability. This study explores the acceptability of a wide range of different tinnitus treatments, from noninvasive wearable devices to surgically implanted devices in the brain. Understanding how tinnitus sufferers consider and rank such options and how they might be influenced by their own perception of the severity of their tinnitus could help clinicians, researchers, and companies plan future efforts for approaching new treatments.

Data collection and analysis: 197 tinnitus self-help group attendees rated their acceptance of treatments on a scale from 0 (not acceptable) to 100 (fully acceptable). The treatments included external devices, medications, cochlear implants, an implant on the brain surface, and an implant in the brain. They were also asked how much they would pay for successful treatments.

Results: There was a significant correlation between loudness and annoyance (r = .78). To reduce tinnitus by half, an "acceptable" response between 91 and 100 was reported by 30% of the respondents for devices, by 52% for pills, by 25% for cochlear implants, by 13% for implants on the brain surface, and by 13% for implants in the brain. To reduce tinnitus completely, a 91-100 acceptable response was reported by 42% for devices, by 62% for pills, by 38% for cochlear implants, by 21% for implants on the brain surface, and by 19% for implants in the brain. To reduce tinnitus completely, participants most commonly selected to pay at least $5000, and 20.3% were willing to pay as much as $25,000. The ratings of tinnitus loudness and annoyance were positively correlated with the likelihood of using any treatment. Surprisingly, there was a weak relationship between annoyance and the amount they were willing to pay.

Conclusions: Tinnitus patients are prepared to accept a wide variety of treatments. Medications are the most acceptable. Invasive procedures can also be acceptable to many, particularly if they provide complete relief.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / economics
  • Acoustic Stimulation / standards
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Cochlear Implants / economics
  • Cochlear Implants / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Therapy / economics
  • Drug Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Electrodes, Implanted / economics
  • Electrodes, Implanted / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hearing Aids / economics
  • Hearing Aids / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus* / economics
  • Tinnitus* / surgery
  • Tinnitus* / therapy
  • Young Adult