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Management of Erectile Dysfunction in General Practice


Antonio Nicolucci, MD, Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Epidemiology, Via Nazionale 8/a 66030 Santa Maria Imbaro, Italy. Tel: +390872 570260; Fax: +390872 570263; E-mail:


Introduction.  In recent years, the availability of effective oral pharmacological treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) has revolutionized its management; however, it is still unclear how everyday clinical practice has changed in response to this evolving scenario.

Aim.  The aim of this study is to describe general practitioners’ (GPs) beliefs and attitudes toward the management of ED.

Methods.  Each GP was asked to recruit consecutive men aged ≥18 years and sexually active, with already known erectile problems or with newly diagnosed ED.

Main Outcomes Measures.  A written questionnaire was used to investigate GPs’ sociodemographic characteristics and their beliefs toward the management of ED.

Results.  Overall, 127 GPs (53.4%) returned the questionnaire and 124 enrolled patients for the study. Only 9.5% of the GPs reported routinely inquiring about ED of patients >40 years of age, whereas 45.7% did it only when the patient raised the problem. GPs’ gender and age were associated with their beliefs about ED treatment and referral to specialist care. Overall, 932 patients were enrolled, of whom 38% had newly diagnosed ED. The problem came to light for initiative of patient in 80% of cases, and 84.8% of men were prescribed a treatment. Patients who on their own initiative discussed of their condition had an almost 3-fold increased probability to be treated than those whose GP began the discussion about ED (odds ratio [OR] = 2.6, confidence interval [CI] 95% 1.5–4.5). Patients followed by female physicians were significantly more likely to be referred to a specialist than those followed by male physicians (OR = 3.3, CI 95% 1.4–5.0).

Conclusions.  The management of ED has become an integral component of clinical practice in primary care. Nevertheless, barriers in addressing sexual issues still persist. Appropriate training is needed for a proactive approach to ED screening and management in men over 40s. De Berardis G, Pellegrini F, Franciosi M, Pamparana F, Morelli P, Tognoni G, and Nicolucci A on behalf of the EDEN study group. Management of erectile dysfunction in general practice. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.