Socioeconomic status and barriers for contacting the general practitioner when bothered by erectile dysfunction: a population-based cross-sectional study.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is common and impacts psychosocial wellbeing negatively. Many do not seek medical attention and several barriers for healthcare seeking with ED exist. Little is known about the association between socioeconomic characteristics of the patient and barriers for healthcare-seeking for men bothered by ED. The objectives of the study were 1) to estimate the proportion of men bothered by ED, who do not contact the GP, 2) to analyse the frequencies of selected barriers for healthcare seeking and 3) to analyse associations between socioeconomic factors and barriers for contacting the GP.

Data derive from a nationwide survey of symptom experiences among 100,000 randomly selected individuals aged 20 years and above. The questionnaire comprises, among other, questions about ED. This study focuses on men who reported bothersome ED and further reported, that they did not contact a GP regarding the symptom. Questions addressing barriers regarding GP contact included embarrassment, worrying about wasting the doctor's time, being too busy, and worrying about what the doctor might find. Information about socioeconomic characteristics was obtained from Statistics Denmark.

A total of 4072 men (18.3%) reported that they had experienced ED within the past four weeks. Of those, 2888 (70.9%) were categorized as having bothersome ED. In the group of men with bothersome ED 1802 (62.4%) did not contact the GP and 60.5% reported barriers for GP-contact. Of the reported barriers, the most frequent was 'being too embarrassed' (29.7%). In general, respondents in the older age groups were less likely to report embarrassment, business and worrying what the doctor might find. Respondents with highest attained educational level were less likely to report embarrassment and worrying.

Nearly two third of the respondents with bothersome ED had not contacted their GP. More than half of those reported barriers towards GP contact with embarrassment as the most frequent barrier. In general, respondents in the older age groups and with high educational level were less likely to report barriers.

BMC family practice. 2020 Aug 16*** epublish ***

Sanne Rasmussen, Kirubakaran Balasubramaniam, Dorte Ejg Jarbøl, Jens Søndergaard, Peter Fentz Haastrup

Research Unit of General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 9A, 5000, Odense C, Denmark. ., Research Unit of General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 9A, 5000, Odense C, Denmark.

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