Original Research

Management of adult patients with tinnitus: Preparedness, perspectives and practices of audiologists

Firdaus Dawood, Nasim B. Khan, Vedika Bagwandin
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 66, No 1 | a621 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v66i1.621 | © 2019 Firdaus Dawood, Nasim B. Khan, Vedika Bagwandin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2018 | Published: 19 November 2019

About the author(s)

Firdaus Dawood, Discipline of Audiology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Nasim B. Khan, Discipline of Audiology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Vedika Bagwandin, Discipline of Audiology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Audiologists, globally, are generally challenged when assessing and creating intervention plans to help patients suffering from tinnitus. Tinnitus is very common among individuals and may significantly affect one’s quality of life, especially if not addressed by health care professionals. In South Africa, there seems to be limited published studies regarding the current practices of tinnitus management by audiologists. This is mainly because of limited training and a lack of guidelines and strategies for the management of tinnitus. In particular, some participants reported being unfamiliar on how to approach the identification of tinnitus and difficulty is also encountered when counselling tinnitus patients.

Aim: The aim of this study was to describe the preparedness, perspectives and practices of audiologists who manage adult patients with tinnitus.

Method: Two hundred and forty-three registered Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) participants were involved in the study by responding to an electronic questionnaire survey. Data were collected online from Survey Monkey and were exported to Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS) (Version 23) for statistical analysis. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Closed-ended questions were analysed within a quantitative framework and thematic analysis for open-ended questions that were descriptively quantified.

Results: The results of the study are presented according to the objectives. Approximately 44% of participants (44.3%) disagreed that the undergraduate university training had sufficiently prepared them to manage adult patients with tinnitus. Very few (12.3%) had the opportunity to attend specialist training on how to assess patients with tinnitus. Similarly, only 11.6% received any specialist training with regard to tinnitus intervention. With regard to its overall management, 49.4% felt adequately informed in the assessment of patients with tinnitus, while a further 39.2% rated their experience as being limited with regard to tinnitus intervention. There is no statistical significance relationship between participants’ years of experience and tinnitus intervention (p = 0.075). Most participants did not follow any standard guidelines for its management. Some participants (26.8%) reported that further education and training are required in the overall management of patients with tinnitus, while a further 17.7% required training in all areas of tinnitus.

Conclusion: The feedback relating to the study suggests that overall management of tinnitus seems to be a challenge among South African audiologists, irrespective of their years of experience. Audiologists in the study perceived that tinnitus services are limited mainly because of a lack of or limited knowledge, training and guidelines, these being affected by contextual restraints.


Keywords

Audiologists; speech therapist and audiologists; STA’s; tinnitus; intervention; management.

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