Tinnitus disability is a heterogeneous and complex condition, affecting more than 10% and compromising the quality of life of 2% of the population, with multiple contributors, often unknown, and enigmatic pathophysiology. The available treatment options are unsatisfactory, as they can, at best, reduce tinnitus severity, but not eliminate its perception. Given the spread of tinnitus and the lack of a standardized treatment, it is crucial to understand the economic burden of this condition. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) and Google Scholar, in order to identify all the articles published on the economic burden of tinnitus before 1 April 2021 (PROSPERO—International prospective register of systematic reviews—No: CRD42020180438). Out of 273 articles identified through our search strategy, only five articles from studies conducted in the United States of America (USA), the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (UK) provided data on tinnitus’s economic costs. Three studies provided mean annual estimates per patient ranging between EUR 1544 and EUR 3429 for healthcare costs, between EUR 69 and EUR 115 for patient and family costs and between EUR 2565 and EUR 3702 for indirect costs, including productivity loss. The other two studies reported an annual mean cost of EUR 564 per patient for tinnitus-related clinical visits, and total costs of EUR 1388 and EUR 3725 for patients treated with a sound generator and Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment, respectively. Our comprehensive review shows a gap in the knowledge about the economic burden of tinnitus on healthcare systems, patients and society. The few available studies show considerable expenses due to healthcare and indirect costs, while out-of-pocket costs appear to be less financially burdensome. Comprehensive health economic evaluations are needed to fill the gaps in current knowledge, using a unified method with reliable and standardized tools.
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