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Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2018 Sep 11;9(1):1512248. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2018.1512248. eCollection 2018.

A trauma-focused approach for patients with tinnitus: the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing - a multicentre pilot trial.

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Department of Medical Psychology, Ziekenhuis Rivierenland, Tiel, The Netherlands.
Department of Psychiatry, Leiden Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC), Leiden, The Netherlands.
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, De Bascule K&J Psychiatrie Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Utrecht University/Altrecht Mental Health Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


in English, Chinese, Spanish

Background: While normal tinnitus is a short-term sensation of limited duration, in 10-15% of the general population it develops into a chronic condition. For 3-6% it seriously interferes with many aspects of life. Objective: The aim of this trial was to assess effectiveness of a trauma-focused approach, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), in reducing tinnitus distress. Methods: The sample consisted of 35 adults with high levels of chronic tinnitus distress from five general hospitals in the Netherlands. Participants served as their own controls. After pre-assessment (T1), participants waited for a period of 3 months, after which they were assessed again (T2) before they received six 90 min manualized EMDR treatment sessions in which tinnitus-related traumatic or stressful events were the focus of treatment. Standardized self-report measures, the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI), Mini-Tinnitus Questionnaire (Mini-TQ), Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) and the Self-Rating Inventory List for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (SRIP), were completed again halfway through treatment (T3), post-treatment (T4) and at 3 months' follow-up (T5). Results: Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed significant improvement after EMDR treatment on the primary outcome, TFI. Compared to the waiting-list condition, scores significantly decreased in EMDR treatment [t(34) = -4.25, p < .001, Cohen's dz  = .72]. Secondary outcomes, Mini-TQ and SCL-90, also decreased significantly. The treatment effects remained stable at 3 months' follow-up. No adverse events or side effects were noted in this trial. Conclusions: This is the first study to suggest that EMDR is effective in reducing tinnitus distress. Randomized controlled trials are warranted.


EMDR; Tinnitus; Tinnitus Functional Index; tinnitus distress; trauma-focused treatment for tinnitus; • Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of auditory stimulation.• For 3–6% of the population it seriously interferes with many aspects of life.• A trauma-focused approach is hypothesized to reduce tinnitus distress.• Treatment with EMDR showed significant results.• Results persisted for up to 3 months (in follow-up).

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