Background: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one complication of diabetes for which the treatment is rationed. Despite considerable public debate there has been no formal assessment of the views of patients and sufferers of the priority of treating ED.
Aims: To determine the perceptions of diabetic patients of the relative priority of treating ED in comparison with treatments for other diabetic complications and common medical conditions.
Methods: Psychological measures were used to assess subjects' perceptions of the relative importance of ED in comparison with eight other common problems (blindness, foot ulcers, high blood pressure, impotence, kidney disease, high cholesterol, migraine, mild indigestion and sleeping difficulties). The concept of willingness to pay was used to assess the amount per month participants would be prepared to pay for treatment for ED and other conditions. Four groups (controls, healthy diabetic men, impotent diabetic men and impotent diabetic men not in a sexual relationship) were studied.
Results: Significant differences were found between the four groups with regard to the ranking of the importance of ED compared with other health problems. Impotent diabetic male patients were prepared to pay more for treatment for their condition than all other conditions except blindness and renal failure.
Conclusions: Men with diabetes, in particular ED sufferers, believe ED has a major impact on quality of life and is as important to treat as many other conditions associated with diabetes.