Digital thErapy For Improved tiNnitus carE Study (DEFINE): Protocol for a randomised controlled trial.
Smith ME., Sharma D., Rivero-Arias O., Rand K., Barrack L., Ogburn E., Young M., Field P., Multmeier J., Muzaffar J.
Tinnitus is a common health condition, affecting approximately 15% of the UK population. The tinnitus treatment with the strongest evidence base is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), with standard tinnitus therapy typically augmented with education, relaxation and other techniques. Availability of CBT and conventional tinnitus therapy more broadly is limited for tinnitus sufferers. The DEFINE trial aims to assess whether smartphone-delivered tinnitus therapy, the Oto app, is as effective as current standard care, one-to-one therapist-delivered tinnitus treatment for the treatment of tinnitus in adults. The trial is registered in the ISRCTN Registry: ISRCTN99577932. DEFINE is an open-label, non-inferiority, prospective, parallel design, randomised-controlled trial. Recruitment, interventions and assessments will be remote, enabling UK-wide participant involvement. 198 participants aged 18 years or more will be recruited via social media advertisement or via primary care physicians. A screening process will identify those with tinnitus that impacts health-related quality of life, and following consent smartphone-based audiometry will be performed. Randomisation 1:1 to the Oto app or one-to-one therapist-led tinnitus therapy will be performed centrally by computer, matching groups for age, sex and hearing level. Following participant allocation, the Oto app will be provided for immediate use, or a one-to-one remote therapy appointment booked to occur within approximately 1 week, with up to 6 sessions delivered. Participant outcomes will be collected at 4,12, 26 and 52 weeks via questionnaire and phone call. The primary outcome is the change in Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) total score measured at 26 weeks following allocation. Adverse events will be recorded. A health economic evaluation in the form of a cost-utility analysis will be performed using data from participant submitted EuroQol 5D-5L and Health Utilities Index Mark 3 scores and resource use data. Trial results will be made publicly available, including a plain English summary.