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A Comparison of Benefit and Economic Value between Two Sound Therapy Tinnitus Management Options
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: Sound therapy coupled with appropriate counseling has gained widespread acceptance in the audiological management of tinnitus. For many years, ear level sound generators (SGs) have been used to provide masking relief and to promote tinnitus habituation. More recently, an alternative treatment device was introduced, the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment (NTT), which employs spectrally-modified music in an acoustic desensitization approach in order to help patients overcome the disturbing consequences of tinnitus. It is unknown, however, if one treatment plan is more efficacious and cost-effective in comparison to the other. In today's economic climate, it has become critical that clinicians justify the value of tinnitus treatment devices in relation to observed benefit.
Purpose: To determine perceived benefit from, and economic value associated with, two forms of sound therapy, namely, SGs and NTT.
Research Design: Retrospective between-subject clinical study.
Study Sample: A sample of convenience comprised of 56 patients drawn from the Tinnitus Management Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic participated. Twenty-three patients selected SGs, and 33 patients selected NTT as their preferred sound therapy treatment option.
Data Collection and Analysis: Sound therapy benefit was quantified using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI). The questionnaire was administered before and 6 mo after initiation of tinnitus treatment. Prior to device fitting, all patients participated in a 1.5 hr group education session about tinnitus and its management. Economic value comparisons between sound therapy options were made using a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) and cost-utility analysis (CUA).
Results: THI scores indicated a significant improvement (p < 0.001) in tinnitus reduction for both treatment types between a pre- and 6 mo postfitting interval, yet there were no differences (p > 0.05) between the treatment alternatives at baseline or 6 mo postfitting. The magnitude of improvement for both SGs and NTT was dependent on initial perceived tinnitus handicap. Based on the CEA and CUA economic analyses alone, it appears that the SGs may be the more cost-effective alternative; however, the magnitude of economic value is a function of preexisting perceived tinnitus activity limitation/participation restriction.
Conclusions: Both SGs and NTT provide significant reduction in perceived tinnitus handicap, with benefit being more pronounced for those patients having greater tinnitus problems at the beginning of therapy. Although the economic models favored the SGs over the NTT, there are several other critical factors that clinicians must take into account when recommending a specific sound therapy option. These include initial tinnitus severity complaints and a number of patient preference variables such as sound preference, listening acceptability, and lifestyle.