Online mindfulness improves quality of life for patients with tinnitus, says new study


A new study led by Leeds Trinity University research shows the benefits of online mindfulness interventions for patients with tinnitus.

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The study, titled An 8-Week Online Body Scan Meditation Intervention for Tinnitus: Accessibility, Adherence, and Rates of Clinically Meaningful Success, was co-authored by Dr James Jackson, Reader in Psychology at Leeds Trinity University, and Chloe Woolmer, trainee clinical psychologist and student on the Doctorate of Clinical Psychology at the University of Leeds. The research is based on Chloe Woolmer’s postgraduate thesis, which she completed as part of her Masters by Research at Leeds Trinity University under Dr Jackson’s supervision. The paper, which has just been published by renowned psychology journal, Mindfulness, investigated the effects of an eight-week online mindfulness programme on tinnitus patients.

An intervention group consisting of 54 participants were given a variety of online mindful body scans, one per week for eight weeks. Approximately 30% of the sample reported a clinically meaningful reduction in their tinnitus distress after two months. In addition, they reported a significant reduction in negative thoughts about tinnitus as well as a significant improvement in mindful thought – which is associated with reduced risk of depression and more effective coping strategies.

Chloe Woolmer said: “Being told you have a condition that 'doesn't have a cure' can be upsetting and difficult for some people. I hope that people take away from this study that there are some interventions that are showing promise and that the relationship a person has with their condition can influence how distressed they are by it. Most importantly, I hope that professionals can consider both how they deliver a tinnitus diagnosis, and what signposting and interventions could be suggested thereafter.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to work with someone as established in their area as James is and I felt very grateful to have his expertise and guidance throughout the process. James was able to provide knowledge of the process that I simply wouldn't have known during my first experience of publishing. I've known James since 2014 as he was my academic tutor during my undergraduate degree. I cannot emphasise enough how well supported I was by James and my supervisory team, who were compassionate, accommodating and understanding throughout.”

Dr James Jackson said: “Chloe was among the best students I have ever come across in my 16 years of lecturing at Leeds Trinity University and it was a pleasure to work with her on this research. She is clearly a major talent, determined to build a career as a Clinical Psychologist, and I was delighted to supervise her thesis looking at an online intervention for tinnitus patients. Her thesis was examined by the late Professor David Baguley, a titan in the field of tinnitus research, and it was the start of our study which is now published in the journal Mindfulness, a key resource in our field. I look forward to seeing Chloe’s career in psychology flourish further and it has been great to work with her both as my student and co-researcher.”

Following on from this study, Dr James Jackson has joined tinnitus experts from South Africa to research the effectiveness of the same eight-week online mindfulness programme in managing tinnitus distress throughout a period of six months, thus assessing its impact long-term. The extended study will not only cover a longer period of time but also a wider demographic, recruiting participants from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

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