The International Tinnitus Journal

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The International Tinnitus Journal

Official Journal of the Neurootological and Equilibriometric Society
Official Journal of the Brazil Federal District Otorhinolaryngologist Society

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ISSN: 0946-5448


Stress and the Onset of Sudden Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Author(s): Claudia Schmitt, Margarete Patak, and Birgit Kroner-Herwig

Forty hospitalized patients with sudden hearing loss and tinnitus were compared to a control group (N = 28) of inpatients of an ear-nose-throat ward. They were similar in various background variables except for the kind of disorder itself. The main objective of our study was to test the hypothesis of stress as a predisposing risk factor in the development of sudden hearing loss and tinnitus. Thus, differences in life events and daily "hassles" were expected between groups, as were differences in coping styles, habitual worrying, and social support. The hypothesis of more frequent and more stressful life events and daily hassles was supported empirically. The dominant role of daily hassles, especially their stressfulness as a risk factor, was shown clearly. Those in the experimental group also reported more coping endeavors and more worrying. Social support had no discriminating function. The prospective part of the study aimed at the prediction of chronicity of sudden hearing loss and tinnitus (3 months after onset) by sociodemographic, psychological, and disease-associated variables. The strongest predictor of chronicity was the degree of well-being at the time of first assessment (soon after disease onset). Coping and a fatalistic locus of control also had some predictive power. Methodologicallirnitations of the study are discussed.