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Psychological aspects of tinnitus : the effects of attentional focus, anxiety and fatigue Leader, Leslie


This study examined the effects of attentional focus, anxiety, and fatigue on tinnitus distress, intensity and pitch in a group of 60 adults with tinnitus. Subjects were randomly allocated to one of three experimental groups or to a group performing a control task. In order to provide a naturalistic parallel to the laboratory manipulation, subjects kept a diary of similar variables for one week. The experimental manipulations showed that an increase in attentional focus on tinnitus led to a significant increase in perceived tinnitus intensity. There was an indication that increased anxiety had a similar effect on tinnitus intensity. Interestingly, tinnitus pitch was relatively unaffected by manipulations compared to tinnitus intensity. Naturalistic diary analyses indicated significant positive correlations between the mood variables, bored, anxious, and fatigue on the one hand and tinnitus distress, intensity and pitch on the other. The strongest correlation appeared to be between tinnitus distress and anxiety. A multiple regression procedure found that tinnitus distress was positively correlated with tinnitus intensity, age, and complexity of the tinnitus sound; and negatively correlated with duration since onset. There was a high degree of variability among subjects in range of tinnitus distress and its temporal patterning. Implications for tinnitus treatment, measurement and a proposed model of tinnitus distress are discussed.

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