Objective: Notched music therapy has been suggested to be effective for relieving tinnitus. We have developed a smartphone application using tailor-made notched music for tinnitus patients. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of this smartphone application on reducing tinnitus. In addition, we investigated the predictive factors for tinnitus treatment outcome using this smartphone application.
Methods: A total of 26 patients who were chronically distressed by tinnitus with a ≥18 Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) score were recruited from March 2013 to March 2015 (National Clinical Trial (NCT) Identifier Number 01663467). Patients were instructed to listen to tailor-made notched music through our smartphone application for 30-60min per day and were prescribed Ginkgo biloba for 3 months. Treatment outcome was evaluated using the THI, a visual analogue scale that measures the effects of tinnitus in terms of loudness, noticeable time, annoyance, and disruption of daily life. Demographic data, including age, sex, duration of tinnitus, and pre-treatment scores on questionnaires such as the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), State Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI), and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores were compared between the effective and non-effective groups according to the differences between their pre- and post-treatment THI scores.
Results: Smartphone application-delivered notched music therapy and Ginko combined treatment improved the THI score from 33.9±18.9 to 23.1±15.2; the effect was particularly marked for the emotional score of the THI. Improvement in the THI score was positively correlated with the initial THI score (P=0.001, adjusted estimated value=0.49, 95% confidence interval=0.25-0.73).
Conclusion: Chronic tinnitus patients who underwent smartphone application-delivered notched music therapy and Ginko combined treatment showed improved THI scores, particularly the emotional score of the THI. A smartphone application-delivered therapy and Ginko combined treatment may be more effective in tinnitus patients who have had a higher initial THI.
Keywords: Music; Smartphone; Sound; Therapy; Tinnitus.
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