Dr Magdalena Sereda, Head of BTA Research, has recently published her paper Mobile Apps for Management of Tinnitus: Users’ Survey, Quality Assessment, and Content Analysis after presenting her results so at the BTA Conference in September 2018. This study is the first one to review mobile phone apps (iOS and Android) for tinnitus, and the first to assess the quality of these apps using the Mobile Apps Rating Scale (MARS).

Objective

The aim of this study was to:

  • Generate the list of apps that people use for management of their tinnitus
  • Explore reasons for app use and nonuse
  • Perform quality assessment of the most cited apps
  • Perform content analysis to explore and describe options and management techniques available in the most cited apps.

Methods

A Web-based survey consisting of 33 open and closed questions captured (1) demographic information, information about tinnitus, and hearing loss and (2) mobile app–specific information about the motivation to use an app, the apps which respondents used for tinnitus, important factors when choosing an app, devices used to access apps, and reasons for not using apps. The quality of the most cited apps was assessed using the Mobile Apps Rating Scale (MARS). Content and features of the most cited apps were analyzed.

Results

Data from 643 respondents were analyzed. The majority of respondents (482/643, 75.0%) had never used an app for management of tinnitus mainly because of lack of awareness (381/643, 59.3%). A list of the 55 apps that people use for their tinnitus was generated. These included apps that were developed specifically for the management of tinnitus; however, the majority of cited apps were developed for other problems (eg, sleep, depression or anxiety, and relaxation). Quality assessment of the 18 most popular apps using MARS resulted in a range of mean scores from 1.6 to 4.2 (out of 5). In line with the current model of tinnitus management, sound was the main focus of the majority of the apps. Other components included relaxation exercises, elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, information and education, and hypnosis.

The benefits of the apps:

Content Features Apps
SOUND
  • Variety of sounds
  • Mixing sounds
  • Random sound effects
  • Frequency adjustments
  • Download your own
  • Personalisation
  • White Noise
  • Oticon Tinnitus Sound
  • myNoise
  • Sleep Bug
  • Sleep Pillow
  • Relax Melodies
  • Beltone Tinnitus Calmer
  • Soothing Sounds Lite
  • Nature Sounds
  • Relax Noise 3
  • Rain Rain Sleep Sounds
  • Tinnitus HQ

RELAXATION

MEDITATION

  • Breathing exercises
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Guided meditation
  • Oticon Tinnitus Sound
  • Relax Melodies
  • Beltone Tinnitus Calmer

INFORMATION

ADVICE

  • Information about tinnitus
  • Information about sound therapy
  • Relaxation tips
  • Oticon Tinnitus Sound
  • Relax Melodies
  • Beltone Tinnitus Calmer
PSYCHOLOGICAL STRATEGIES
  • Elements of mindfulness
  • Elements of cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Beltone Tinnitus Calmer

Conclusions

Dr Magdalena Sereda concluded that "As content of the apps varies in respect to sound options, information, and management strategies, it seems that the choice of the best management app should be guided by individual patient needs and preferences." This is something to consider when deciding if an app would be helpful in managing your own tinnitus.

Mobile apps are not a solution in themselves to managing tinnitus but they do provide another management option for people with tinnitus to try, and more choice is always a good thing.

Download the PDF of the full paper using the link below:

https://mhealth.jmir.org/2019/1/e10353/pdf