This article is the first of 2 that present basic guidelines for audiologists to provide clinical management of tinnitus. The method, termed audiologic tinnitus management (ATM), was developed to incorporate management strategies that can be implemented most efficiently by audiologists.
Development of ATM has been drawn from the clinical and research experience of the authors and numerous audiologists. Certain elements of ATM are adapted from the methods of tinnitus masking and tinnitus retraining therapy. Procedures are described in the present article for performing the intake assessment, while the companion article (J. A. Henry, T. L. Zaugg, & M. A. Schechter, 2005) describes treatment methodology.
Development of ATM has resulted in defined procedures to conduct a basic tinnitus assessment that includes written questionnaires, an intake interview, audiologic evaluation, and a psychoacoustic assessment of tinnitus perceptual characteristics. If patients report a sound tolerance problem (hyperacusis), loudness discomfort levels are measured at audiometric frequencies. There are special procedures for selecting hearing aids, ear-level noise generators, combination devices (noise generator and hearing aid combined), and personal listening devices (i.e., portable radios and tape, CD, and MP3 players).
This article explains each of these assessment components in detail. Adoption of the ATM assessment protocol by audiologists can contribute to the establishment of uniform procedures for the clinical management of tinnitus patients.