Psychiatric disorders in tinnitus patients assessed via the Internet

Background: Tinnitus has been associated with psychiatric disorders and more recently diagnostic tools have been used in a systematic manner.

Method: In the present study we administered the World Health Organisation’s Composite International Diagnostic Interview - Short form (CIDI-SF) in a computerised Internet-based version to a self-selected sample of tinnitus patients (N=48).

Results: Using the cut-off for ‘probable case’ (12-month prevalence), 69% of the tinnitus patients fulfilled the criteria for depression, 60% for generalised anxiety disorder, 83% for specific phobia, 67% for social phobia, 58% for agoraphobia, 21% panic attack, 83% obsessive compulsive disorder, 2% alcohol dependence, and 0% drug dependence. Decreased percentages were found for depression (4%), specific phobia (62%), and social phobia (27%) when applying a more conservative criteria (maximum case criteria).

Conclusion: The findings suggest that the Internet version of CIDI-SF can be used as a screening tool for psychiatric disturbance in somatic patients, but that diagnostic criteria need to be adjusted for Internet use.