Anglia Ruskin teams up with Swedish university to develop online programme

Anglia Ruskin University has launched a new internet-based project to help people suffering from a distressing and debilitating hearing-related condition, known as tinnitus.

Those experiencing tinnitus perceive unwanted sounds, such as ringing or buzzing, in the absence of any corresponding external sound.

It is believed that around 10% of the population suffer from tinnitus and it is more common amongst older adults. Tinnitus can rarely be cured and is therefore a chronic, life-long condition. Experiencing tinnitus can impact on sleep, mood and concentration. It may also lead to anxiety and depression.

To be able to offer help to those distressed by tinnitus, a team of researcher have developed a novel internet-based intervention called Tackling Tinnitus. This is an online programme, sharing a range of techniques, to help people with tinnitus better manage their symptoms.

The project is a collaboration between Anglia Ruskin and Linköping University in Sweden, who are world-leaders in the field of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy.

Tackling Tinnitus aims to reduce the distress, anxiety and depression associated with the condition. The techniques used aim to help sufferers cope with the emotional and physical side-effects such as stress, lack of concentration and insomnia.

What sets this intervention apart is that participants will be guided by an experienced audiologist during the eight-week programme, enabling them to ask questions and receive feedback on their progress.

Eldré Beukes, an Audiological Scientist at Anglia Ruskin University's Vision & Hearing Sciences department, said: "Despite much research, a cure for tinnitus remains to be found.

"There are, however, strategies that are effective at reducing the impact tinnitus may have. Not everyone is aware of this though. Tinnitus sufferers therefore, often feel isolated and hopeless.

"Tackling Tinnitus aims to empower those experiencing tinnitus to be able to better control their tinnitus, with the flexibility of carrying out the treatment programme online, whenever and wherever it suits them.

"The techniques shared are largely based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which are very effective, but not readily accessible to those experiencing tinnitus.

"This programme is completely free and provides equal access and the same information for all participants, regardless of where they live, bypassing the postcode lottery that can be found in healthcare."

Full details of the study protocol have been published in the journal BMJ Open. Academics are currently running a validation study and are inviting adults who have been struggling with tinnitus for at least three months, and have access to the internet, to participate in the next phase.

Anyone interested in taking part in the trial can get more information and register interest by visiting the project website