How do GPs view erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is receiving overwhelming attention in the recent years. Surveys from USA reported that half of the men had some degree of ED, but only about 10% sought consultation from a physician. Physician’s attitudes play an important role in their health-seeking behaviour. How do GPs perceive ED? How do GPs perceive their roles in the management of ED? This qualitative study aimed to answer these questions using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews.
28 GPs in Klang Valley participated in this study in 2003. All had some experience in managing men with ED, and they consisted of doctors from private and public sectors. Most participants were passive towards managing men with ED. They would only discuss sexual issues with patients whom they were familiar with. They perceived ED as a less serious and significant disease compared to chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Anti-ED drugs (PDE5 inhibitors) were considered by some as lifestyle drugs which might be abused. Other reasons contributing to GPs’ reluctance to prescribe included fear of being blamed if side effects developed, perceived by patients as pushing for the drug, felt that it was the job of the specialists to manage ED and cost of PDE5 inhibitors, especially for men with low income.
This study showed a discrepancy in expectations between doctors and men with ED. GPs should consider patients’ expectations and discuss management options of ED with them in an open manner. Bringing up sexual issues in a timely and purposeful way will improve patient’s satisfaction and enhance doctor-patient relationship. (copied from article)