To determine the effect of cochlear implantation (CI) on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), tinnitus, and psychological comorbidity in patients with severe to profound postlingual hearing loss and to analyze the relationship between these parameters.
Using six validated questionnaires, we evaluated the pre-CI and post-CI scores of HRQoL, tinnitus, perceived stress, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and coping strategies in 43 patients implanted unilaterally with a multichannel implant for at least 6 months.
In addition to improvements in hearing, speech understanding, and disease-specific HRQoL, psychological comorbidity was reduced and coping strategies were improved following CI. In the 39 tinnitus patients, their tinnitus was reduced. We found negative correlations between HRQoL and stress, depression, and anxiety. Pre-CI, tinnitus severity did not correlate with HRQoL and psychological comorbidity. However, patients with a high-level tinnitus had lower HRQoL as well as a higher level of perceived stress and anxiety symptoms than patients with a low-level tinnitus and no/incidental tinnitus before CI. Moreover, patients with severe hearing loss had a higher level of perceived symptoms of stress and depression than patients with profound hearing loss before CI.
The present study provides evidence that tinnitus and psychological comorbidity may play an important role in the rehabilitation of CI patients, and that there is a correlation between HRQoL and these parameters. In addition to hearing tests, tinnitus, stress, and psychological comorbidity should be assessed using validated questionnaires before and after CI. This will help to improve the rehabilitation process.