Transcranial magnetic stimulation for tinnitus: using the Tinnitus Functional Index to predict benefit in a randomized controlled trial

Trials. 2017 Feb 9;18(1):64. doi: 10.1186/s13063-017-1807-9.


Background: Identifying characteristics associated with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) benefit would offer insight as to why some individuals experience tinnitus relief following TMS treatment, whereas others do not. The purpose of this study was to use the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) and its subscales to identify specific factors associated with TMS treatment responsiveness.

Methods: Individuals with bothersome tinnitus underwent 2000 pulses of 1-Hz TMS for 10 consecutive business days. The primary outcome measure was the TFI which yields a total score and eight individual subscale scores. Analyses were performed on baseline data from the active arm (n = 35) of a prospective, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of TMS for tinnitus.

Results: Baseline total TFI score and three of the eight TFI subscales were useful in differentiating between responders and nonresponders to TMS intervention for tinnitus. These findings are not definitive, but suggest potential factors that contribute to perceived benefit following TMS.

Conclusions: Overall, the main factor associated with TMS benefit was a higher tinnitus severity score for responders at baseline. The TFI subscales helped to clarify the factors that contributed to a higher severity score at baseline. Large-scale prospective research using systematic approaches is needed to identify and describe additional factors associated with tinnitus benefit following TMS.

Trial registration:, ID: NCT01104207 . Registered on 13 April 2010.

Keywords: Questionnaire; Tinnitus; Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Cost of Illness
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oregon
  • Patient Selection
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Time Factors
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis
  • Tinnitus / physiopathology
  • Tinnitus / psychology
  • Tinnitus / therapy*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation* / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data