Progressive audiologic tinnitus program for veterans


© Antonio Jimenez Alonso -

American researchers from various hospitals and rehabilitation research centers have developed a clinical tinnitus model to facilitate access to medical services for affected patients. It is estimated that 10 to 15% of adults in the general population have tinnitus but only a small subset of those are affected to a high enough degree that they seek medical attention. There are no guidelines available on providing tinnitus clinical services, leaving sufferers at a clear disadvantage when seeking care, say the authors. In addition, tinnitus is highly prevalent among military veterans and is the most common service-related disability. However, many Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers do not provide systematic clinical care for the disorder.

The researchers carried out a study to develop and test a protocol to provide tinnitus services consistently across VA audiology clinics. They defined five hierarchical levels of care and called the model the Progressive Audiologic Tinnitus Management (PATM) model. The model facilitates access to care and includes detailed protocols for evaluation, education, and counseling. Patients at each level of care have the option to progress to the next level of PATM if further services are required, according to the article.

Results of the pilot study suggest that many veterans who complain of tinnitus do not desire clinical care beyond a basic audiologic assessment and fitting of hearing aids, if indicated. This finding has also been reported by numerous VA audiologists who have implemented PATM in their clinic. The protocol has since been revised and is currently being evaluated in a multi-VA-site randomized clinical study.

Source: Myers PJ, et al. Development of a progressive audiologic tinnitus management program for Veterans with tinnitus. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development 2014 Jul;51(4):609-22