Erectile Dysfunction in a U.S. National Sample of Male Military Veterans.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most prevalent sexual dysfunctions in men and often co-occurs with physical and mental health issues. Military veterans are at elevated risk for many comorbid physical and mental health issues, including ED, although little research has examined the prevalence and health burden of ED in the general U. S. veteran population. The present study calculated the weighted lifetime prevalence of ED and its association with physical and mental health conditions in a nationally representative sample of U.S. veterans.

Using data from a nationally representative sample of 921 male U.S. veterans, self-report assessments assessed major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder, probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), at-risk/problem gambling, and past two-week suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as 22 physical health conditions.

The weighted lifetime prevalence of ED among veterans was 14.2% (95% CI = 12.0%-16.0%). Veterans with ED were more likely to be older than 60, unemployed, to have served less than four years in the military, and to have served in combat roles and in the Vietnam War. Relative to veterans without ED, veterans with ED had higher rates of sleep disorders (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 3.23), arthritis (aOR = 2.60), high cholesterol (aOR = 2.30), diabetes (aOR = 2.29), high blood pressure (aOR = 2.14), obesity (aOR = 2.12), heart disease (aOR = 2.10), cancer (aOR = 2.07), respiratory illness (aOR = 2.02), and chronic pain (aOR = 1.86). After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and physical health conditions, ED was associated with increased odds of MDD (aOR = 2.88), at-risk/problem gambling (aOR = 2.45), and suicidal ideation (aOR = 1.91) but not for generalized anxiety disorder (aOR = 1.69) or probable PTSD (aOR = 1.63). When considered in the context of all mental health variables, MDD was independently associated with ED (aOR = 3.39).

This study examined both mental and physical health conditions associated with ED in a U.S. nationally representative sample of veterans. ED is prevalent in veterans and associated with elevated physical and mental health burden. Results highlight the importance of considering ED in disease prevention and treatment efforts in this population. These findings may help inform prevention approaches as well as clinical targets for early screening and treatment in vulnerable subgroups of this population. Notably, data collected relied on self-report assessments; data on race and socioeconomic status were not collected.

Military medicine. 2022 Jul 06 [Epub ahead of print]

Bailey M Way, Kaelyn R Griffin, Shane W Kraus, Jack Tsai, Robert H Pietrzak

Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA., U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, Tampa, FL, USA., U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.