2018 ATRR: An Introduction | British Tinnitus Association
Three overarching themes guided my selection of articles for the 2018 issue of the BTA Annual Research Review:
- targeting important research questions,
- recognising the expertise of people with tinnitus, and
- bringing different perspectives.
Targeting important research questions
It’s always heartening to read about progress. In this issue, Nic Wray summarises what advances have been achieved since the BTA led a team to target research questions prioritised by people with tinnitus and by healthcare practitioners.
While we still don’t have a cure, the Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) certainly succeeded in raising the profile of tinnitus as a debilitating condition that deserves major government funding to support research. As a result, many new studies are now underway to address those questions identified by the PSP.
The clinical trial evaluating mindfulness reported in this issue by clinical psychologists Liz Marks and Laurence McKenna is a good example of a study targeting one of the top 10 research questions.
Recognising the expertise of people with tinnitus
The PSP was one of the first large-scale projects to really value the views and opinions of people with tinnitus and to bring them into the research process as equal partners with professionals.
I’ve always been a strong advocate for involving members of the public to work alongside myself and my team in designing, conducting and communicating research. Although I do notice occasional ringing in my ears, I would not describe myself as someone with tinnitus, and so I have always found it insightful, illuminating and highly rewarding to take a back seat as a researcher and to listen and learn from the real ‘tinnitus experts’. I’m particularly delighted that this 2018 issue has two articles co-written by members of the public: Anna Frost and Brian Thacker, a first for these Annual Tinnitus Research Reviews! I do hope that you find these articles interesting and maybe they might inspire you to get involved. Who knows?
Bringing different perspectives
In my opinion, one of the most significant steps forward has been achieved in the creation of a strong tinnitus research community across Europe and Northern America. I’d like to thank Prof Berthold Lanngguth, in Germany, for his determination and perseverance in winning a grant from the European Union to establish the TINNET network of like-minded clinicians and researchers all with a passion for tinnitus, and Tanisha Hammill in the USA, for doing likewise with the Pharmacological Interventions for Hearing Loss (PIHL) network.
I am fortunate to be part of both networks and many of the network members have since become close colleagues and friends through the regular interactions via the TINNET and PIHL conferences and workshops. My own article in this issue reports on one of the major TINNET projects and several of the other contributors are those colleagues and friends, in particular Agnieska Szczepek, Winny Schlee and Christopher Cederroth. The TINNET network has now spread after having successfully won about €8million, again from the European Union. Theo Kypraios and Eleni Genitsaridi are new colleagues involved in one of those grants, bringing novel and interesting statistical insights to understand tinnitus.
As Nic Wray reports in her review, one of the major challenges still remaining is how to improve the quality of the research that’s done, so that it generates findings that are trustworthy and new insights that lead to successful treatments. There is still progress to be made, of course. But I believe that the articles in this issue reflect a major step forward in all of the three overarching themes by opening our eyes, hearts and minds to what is happening in other disciplines, other countries and across clinical, academic, industrial and not-for-profit sectors.
It is for the up-and-coming generation of tinnitus clinicians and researchers especially to grasp those opportunities and work co-operatively and collectively to benefit all of those who struggle to life with tinnitus day in day out.
I hope you enjoy reading the 2018 issue of the Annual Tinnitus Research Review.