The causes of patient dropout from penile self-injection therapy for impotence

J Urol. 1999 Oct;162(4):1291-4.


Purpose: Penile self-injection therapy, a second line treatment for erectile dysfunction, is the most efficacious means of reestablishing functional erections when first line therapies fail and the patient wants to avoid penile prosthesis implantation. Despite high efficacy rates, injection therapy has high dropout rates. To our knowledge studies to date analyzing patient attrition have reviewed small numbers of patients followed for only short periods. We elucidate the main reasons for patient dropout in a large penile self-injection program with long-term followup.

Materials and methods: A questionnaire was mailed to 1,424 patients who completed the office training and home use phases of a penile self-injection program.

Results: The overall attrition rate was 31% of the 720 men who completed the questionnaire, with a mean followup of 38 months. The main reasons for dropout were cost of therapy, patient and partner problems with the concept of penile injection, lack of partner availability and spontaneous improvement in erections. Lack of efficacy of therapy was the primary reason for only 1 of 7 dropouts. Furthermore, adverse effects of penile injections (priapism, penile nodules, pain) appeared to be only minor contributors to dropout.

Conclusions: To our knowledge this study is the largest published, single center cohort of patients treated with injection and followed for an analysis of dropout rates. Based on study data a reduction in dropout rates may be achieved by keeping the cost of therapy low, and ensuring patient and partner education as well as continued support throughout treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Penis
  • Self Administration
  • Surveys and Questionnaires