The Daily Experience of Subjective Tinnitus: Ecological Momentary Assessment Versus End-of-Day Diary

Ear Hear. 2022 Jan/Feb;43(1):45-52. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000001054.


Objective: Traditional methods of self-report assessments are susceptible to bias (i.e., memory, recall, and recency). Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) may curb these biases by repeated momentary assessment of the participant throughout the day. High costs and participant burden may, however, impede the use of EMA. End-of-day diary (EDD) provides an attractive alternative to EMA, though no direct comparison has been performed in the tinnitus field.

Design: Four thousand seven-hundred thirty-two data entries were collected from nine participants undergoing cognitive behavioral treatment for tinnitus. Eleven equivalent EMA and EDD items were collected for approximately 3 months. Tinnitus experience (i.e., anger, annoyance, avoidance, distraction, fear, invasiveness, pleasantness, and sadness) and well-being (i.e., anxiety, happiness, and stress) were correlated and means compared (t-tests).

Results: All variables presented adequate correlation (r > 0.68) between the EMA and EDD counterparts. Small (<3.9%) significant daily mean differences between EMA and EDD were found for six variables (tinnitus anger, invasiveness, pleasantness, sadness, as well as anxiety and stress) with worse results reported in EDD.

Conclusion: The small significant effects found may be attributed to the large number of data points. When EMA is not possible or recommended, EDD provides a viable alternative to assess tinnitus experience daily. Further research on the underlying mechanisms of tinnitus experience and recollection is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Self Report
  • Tinnitus* / psychology