Internet-Based Guided Self-Help Versus Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Tinnitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Background: The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to investigate the effects of conventional face-to-face group cognitive behavioral therapy (GCBT) and an Internet-delivered guided self-help treatment (Internet-based CBT, ICBT) on tinnitus distress. Methods: A total of 128 adults with at least mild levels of chronic tinnitus distress were randomly assigned to GCBT (n = 43), ICBT (n = 41), or a web-based discussion forum (DF) that served as a control condition (n = 44). Standardized self-report measures [the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), Mini-Tinnitus Questionnaire (Mini-TQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Insomnia Severity Index and Tinnitus Acceptance Questionnaire] were completed at the pre- and post-assessments and at the 6-month follow-up. Results: Repeated-measures ANOVAs revealed significant time × group interaction effects on the primary outcomes (THI and Mini-TQ scores) in favor of both CBT interventions compared with the DF at post-assessment (0.56 ≤ g ≤ 0.93; all p ≤ 0.001). There were no significant differences between GCBT and ICBT (all p > 0.05) and the treatment effects remained stable at the 6-month follow-up. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that ICBT might be an equally effective alternative to conventional CBT in the management of chronic tinnitus. Despite encouraging results, further research is necessary to determine the actual potential of ICBT as a viable alternative to CBT, and under which circumstances it is effective.