First Advisor

Nancy J. Chapman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning







Physical Description

3, x, 187 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


This study investigates the psychological, social and economic costs of tinnitus to affected individuals. A conceptual framework for tinnitus is presented which includes the possible causes of tinnitus, the perception of severity of tinnitus, mediators or agents that can change the perception of tinnitus, tinnitus treatments, and the social and economic effects of tinnitus. Three main factors were studied: 1) whether tinnitus costs can be predicted from perceived severity and other characteristics of tinnitus, 2) whether a scale can be developed to provide information about the subjective measurement of tinnitus severity, and 3) how many people have severe tinnitus. Information from tinnitus sufferers was collected through the use of a mail survey distributed to members of tinnitus self-help groups and to people seeking information about their tinnitus from the American Tinnitus Association. Group I comprised 171 self-help group members, and Group II comprised 84 new inquirers. Estimates of the cost of tinnitus were derived for the combined respondent groups. In testing the hypotheses it was found that tinnitus costs increased as the perception of severity increased, and that the variables age, sex, psychological problems, income and general health are related to tinnitus costs. A three item scale for rating the perception of tinnitus severity was developed. Reliability testing indicated that the scale would provide data usable in research but that it would not be a strong enough indicator to be used alone as a decision criterion. The scale, when used in conjunction with medical, audiological, and dental evaluations can contribute to the definition of severity. Using the available data about tinnitus prevalence this study presented an estimate of more than 5% of civilian and non-institutionalized Americans suffering from severe tinnitus in 1985, and more than 20% experiencing milder tinnitus. Information for obtaining this estimate was derived from U. S. census reports, National Health Interviews, Hearing and Ear Examination Findings, census studies from Great Britain, and smaller studies.


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