Background: There is a lack of data on the frequency and neuropsychological correlates of tinnitus in distinct clinical populations such as persons injured in high impact motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).
Method: Tinnitus severity and frequency were analyzed statistically in de-identified data of 106 post-MVA patients (mean age=39.5, SD=13.1; 31 males and 75 females). Correlations of tinnitus to the patients’ scores on the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire, Subjective Neuropsychological Symptoms Scale (SNPSS), Brief Pain Inventory, Insomnia Severity Index, PTSD measure (PCL-5), and to ratings of depression, anger, and anxiety on the Whiplash Disability Questionnaire were evaluated. The patients were interviewed an average of 53.6weeks (SD=39.9) after their MVA; all continued to suffer from post-MVA symptoms requiring therapy.
Results: Tinnitus was reported by 70 of the 106 post-MVA patients (66%). Slightly less than a half of the 70 rated their tinnitus as “frequent” or “persistent” and slightly more than a half as “occasional.”
With respect to Rivermead and SNPSS items, the severity and frequency of tinnitus correlated significantly (at p<.01, 2-tailed) with oversensitivity to light, restlessness, word finding difficulty, hand tremor, stutter, and instances of reduced muscular control over hand or arm (rs ranging from .28 to .37). Tinnitus severity correlated also with tingling in the limbs (r=.31), and with impaired balance (r=.28). Tinnitus frequency correlated also with difficulty articulating words (r=.28). Tinnitus also significantly correlated with ratings of pain and of insomnia (rs ranging from .26 to .32), but not with variables such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety.
Discussion and Conclusions: Tinnitus is correlated with some aspects of whiplash trauma and the post-concussion syndrome. However, the size of these relationships is rather weak.
Henry JA, Dennis KC, Schechter MA. General Review of Tinnitus: Prevalence, Mechanisms, Effects, and Management. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 2005;48:1204-1235.
Hoffman HJ, & Reed GW. Epidemiology of tinnitus. In J. B. Snow, Jr. (Ed.), Tinnitus: Theory and management. Lewiston, NY: BC Decker, 2004, pp. 16-41.
Choi MS, Shin S-O, Yeon JY, Choi YS, Kim J, and Park SK. Clinical Characteristics of Labyrinthine Concussion. Korean Journal of Audiology. 2013;17:13-17.
Cernovsky ZZ, Litman LC, Mann SC, Oyewumi LK, Bureau Y, Mendonça JD, Diamond DM, and Raheb H. Validation of the Subjective Neuropsychological Symptoms Scale (SNPSS) in Injured Motorists. Archives of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. 2021;4(1):6-13.
Cleeland CS. The Brief Pain Inventory - User Guide. Houston, TX: The University of Texas - M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 2009.
Morin CM, Belleville G, Bélanger L, and Ivers H. The insomnia severity index: psychometric indicators to detect insomnia cases and evaluate treatment response. Sleep. 2011; 34:601-608.
King NS, Crawford S, Wenden FJ, Moss NEG, Wade DT. The Rivermead Post Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire: a measure of symptoms commonly experienced after head injury and its reliability. Journal of Neurology. 1995;242:587-592.
Cernovsky ZZ, Mann SC, Velamoor V, Oyewumi LK, Diamond DM, Litman LC. Validation of the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ) on Patients Injured in High Impact Car Accidents. Archives of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. 2021;4(1):14-22. doi.org/10.22259/2638-5201.0401003.
Pinfold M, Niere KR, O'Leary EF, Hoving JL, Green S and Buchbinder R. Validity and internal consistency of a Whiplash-Specific disability measure. Spine. 2004;29(3): 263-268.
Blevins CA, Weathers FW, Davis MT, Witte TK, and Domino JL. The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5): Development and Initial Psychometric Evaluation. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 2015;28:489-498. doi: 10.1002/jts.22059.
Cernovsky Z, Istasy P, Bureau Y, Chiu S. Scale for retrospective assessment of immediate concussion symptoms. Mental Illness. 2018;10(2):70-71. doi.org/10.4081/mi.2018.7901.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.