Why is tinnitus a problem? A large-scale qualitative evaluation of problems reported by tinnitus patients in mainland China

Deborah Hall, Binbin  Xiong, Wenyan Li, Yaowen  Wang, Xiaoli Zhang, Fei Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objectives: The lived experience of tinnitus has biopsychosocial characteristics which are influenced by sociocultural factors. The main purpose of this study is to investigate how tinnitus affects people in their everyday life in China. A deductive qualitative analysis examined whether an a priori Western-centric conceptual framework could extend to an Asian context.

Design: A large-scale prospective survey collected patient-reported problems associated with tinnitus in 485 adults attending four major ENT clinics in Eastern and Southern mainland China.

Results: The evidence suggests that patients in China express a narrower range of problem domains associated with the lived experience of tinnitus. While 13 tinnitus-related problem domains were confirmed, culture-specific adaptations included the addition uncomfortable (a novel concept not previously reported), and the potential exclusion of concepts such as intrusiveness, loss of control, loss of peace and loss of sense of self.

Conclusions: The sociocultural context of patients across China plays an important role in defining the vocabulary used to describe the patient-centred impacts of tinnitus. Possible explanatory factors include cultural differences in the meaning and relevance of certain concepts relating to self and in help-seeking behaviour, low health literacy and a different lexicon in Chinese compared to English to describe tinnitus-related problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-341
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number5
Early online date24 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2024


  • China
  • Cross-cultural
  • behavioural
  • emotional
  • psychosocial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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