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BJU Int. 2004 Nov;94(7):1055-65.

Drivers and barriers to seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction: a comparison of six countries.

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Department of Urology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.



To identify predictors of treatment-seeking behaviour in men with erectile dysfunction (ED) and the predictors (correlates) of individual drivers and barriers to seeking treatment. Although the prevalence and epidemiology of ED have been reviewed, there is little information about the treatment-seeking behaviour of men with this disorder.


Data from the Cross-National Survey on Male Health Issues conducted between March and September 2000 were assessed by multivariate analysis. A cohort of 32 644 men aged 20-75 years was recruited during visits to their physicians. The men completed a short screening questionnaire, covering their overall health, and prostate, urinary and erectile problems. Men identified as having ED completed a detailed follow-up questionnaire. Logistic regression methods were used to identify predictors of treatment-seeking behaviour, and individual drivers and barriers to seeking treatment.


Most men with ED had not sought treatment. The analyses suggested that ED, in conjunction with a desire to have sex, was necessary for men to seek treatment. Men seeking treatment commonly identified themselves as self-motivated or that they were influenced by a spouse or sex partner. The youngest group (20-39 years) was least likely to seek treatment. Among those who did not seek treatment, younger men were likely to believe that their ED would resolve spontaneously, whereas older men resisted seeking treatment because they felt that ED was a natural part of ageing.


The data from this survey of men using the healthcare system confirmed other population-based reports that a minority of men with ED seek treatment. Subset analyses showed that treatment-seeking behaviour tended to be driven primarily by the man or by his sex partner. Common barriers to seeking treatment included the belief that ED would resolve spontaneously (younger men) and that ED was a normal part of ageing (older men).

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