Help-seeking for medically unexplained hearing difficulties: A qualitative study

Helen Pryce, David Wainwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)


Aims: Up to 10% of audiology patients report difficulties hearing speech in noise even though clinical investigation reveals normal hearing thresholds, in other words, no evidence of physical pathology. The diagnostic category applied to these patients is known as King-Kopetzky Syndrome (KKS). This study aimed to gather descriptions of patients' experiences of the clinical encounter involving their KKS diagnosis and analyse the themes of help-seeking, as part of a larger study into the process of coping with medically unexplained hearing difficulties.

Method: A qualitative approach was employed, comprising unstructured interviews in the homes of 25 patients who had attended audiology services (and received a diagnosis of KKS) in Bath and Cardiff. Thematic analysis of transcripts was undertaken, influenced by grounded theory techniques.

Findings: Informants characterized the clinical encounter as either negative or positive. Negative consultations were those in which patients' illness claims were dismissed and as such not validated. Positive encounters were typified by the provision of meaningful information that reconciled clinical information with the patients' experiences of hearing loss.

Conclusion: Successful management of medically unexplained illnesses requires the adoption of a patient-centred approach, rather than focusing on the absence of observable pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-349
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Audiology
  • Clinical encounters
  • Hearing therapy
  • King-kopetzky syndrome
  • Medically unexplained

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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