Tinnitus Archive

Tinnitus Archive > Appendix > Archive Background and Development

Archive Background and Development

Need for Better Information on Tinnitus

The overall goal of work on tinnitus is to develop better methods for treatment and prevention. As in other branches of medical practice, development of more effective clinical techniques relies on developing thorough knowledge of the various ways in which the disorder may manifest itself, and from that a better understanding of potential underlying mechanisms.

Historical Background for the Archive - Work on tinnitus was of modest scope until the development of modern electroacoustic equipment. Thereafter, quantitative audiometric techniques could be applied to tinnitus (Fowler, 1940; Reed, 1960) and these were augmented by documentation of more subjective aspects of tinnitus (Goodhill, 1952; Graham, 1965; Graham & Newby, 1962; Reed, 1960). These reports included data from large numbers of patients, but the data-handling methods available then were not well suited to the complexities of tinnitus. Because of the heterogeneity of tinnitus patients, in regard to both symptoms and etiological factors, understanding of tinnitus requires multivariate techniques that were not readily available until the advent of digital computers.

In the 1970's there was a reawakening of interest in clinical approaches to treatment and management of chronic tinnitus (Hazell, 1976; Hazell, 1979a; Hazell, 1979b; Hazell, 1981b; Nodar, 1978; Vernon, 1975; Vernon, 1976; Vernon, 1977; Vernon, 1978; Vernon & Meikle, 1981). The introduction of wearable tinnitus maskers at the OHSU Tinnitus Clinic was a part of that trend, and succeeded in providing effective tinnitus relief for large numbers of tinnitus patients (Vernon & Schleuning, 1978; Vernon et al., 1977). At the same time a number of measurement techniques for tinnitus were standardized, thus providing a systematic clinical evaluation protocol (Vernon, 1987; Vernon & Meikle, 1981; Vernon & Meikle, 1988).

Initiation of the Tinnitus Data Registry - By 1980 the attendance of large numbers of patients at the Tinnitus Clinic was providing a wealth of information about the clinical manifestations of tinnitus in the form of paper records. To provide more convenient handling of that information, development of a computerized database was begun with the following aims:

  1. To provide efficient storage and retrieval for large numbers of patient records
  2. To support the use of a structured method for data acquisition
  3. To facilitate later statistical analysis of the data

The result was the Tinnitus Data Registry, formally initiated in 1981. Computer-assisted methods for handling the large amounts of data being generated were developed as part of that effort (Meikle & Walsh, 1984; Meikle & Whitney, 1984; Meikle et al., 1984).

Content of the Registry - A systematic process was initiated to define the scope and nature of the Registry content, guided by the observations and experience of many previous investigations concerning tinnitus (Fowler, 1940; Goodhill, 1952; Graham, 1965; Graham & Newby, 1962; Hazell, 1981a; Hazell, 1981b; Nodar, 1978; Reed, 1960; Vernon, 1977; Vernon, 1978). The work by previous investigators was of significant help in developing new, more comprehensive patient questionnaires. In addition, external review and consultation from a large number of audiologists, otologists, and other health professionals in both the U.S. and U.K. was obtained.

Goals of the Registry - An explicit goal of the Registry was to provide more detailed information on tinnitus than was available in the literature. Quantitative rather than qualitative measures have been emphasized whenever possible in constructing new patient questionnaires. It was helpful that a standardized approach to the quantification of tinnitus test results had already been achieved through development of the Norwest Tinnitus Synthesizer together with appropriate tinnitus testing techniques (Vernon, 1987; Vernon, 1988; Vernon & Meikle, 1981; Vernon & Meikle, 1988; Vernon & Fenwick, 1984). The net results of these development efforts (patient questionnaires and tinnitus test protocols) are shown in the Methods for Data Set 1.

Initiation of the Tinnitus Archive

By 1994 the number of patient records in the Tinnitus Data Registry exceeded 1600, and requests for summary data on tinnitus attributes and clinical manifestations were frequently received and processed. Meanwhile, the development of the World Wide Web made it practical to offer readily accessible information freely and without cost to a wide readership. A Web-based publication summarizing the most salient attributes of tinnitus was therefore undertaken by Registry staff Meikle et al., 1995. The first edition of the Archive was published on 12.Jul.1995 Meikle et al., 1995. It was entitled the Oregon Tinnitus Data Archive.

Second Edition of the Tinnitus Archive - For this second edition the name has been shortened to the Tinnitus Archive and a number of new statistical summaries have been added. There are now two major subsections within the Archive (Data Set 1 and Data Set 2). Data Set 1 contains all the statistical summaries originally included in the Oregon Tinnitus Data Archive. Data Set 2 provides gender-based breakdowns for a large subset of the same patients. Graphic representations of most Data Summaries have also been added.

In literature or other citations, the Archive should be cited as a publication using the following format:

Meikle MB, Creedon TA, Griest SE. (2004) Tinnitus Archive, second edition.