Relative contributions of modifiable risk factors to erectile dysfunction: results from the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) Survey

Prev Med. Jan-Feb 2010;50(1-2):19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.11.006. Epub 2009 Nov 24.


Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the relative contribution of modifiable risk factors (physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption) to inter-subject variation in erectile dysfunction (ED).

Methods: The Boston Area Community Health (BACH) Survey used a multistage stratified random sample to recruit 2301 men age 30-79 years from the city of Boston between 2002 and 2005. ED was assessed using the 5-item International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5). Multiple linear regression models and R(2) were used to determine the proportion of the variance explained by modifiable risk factors.

Results: In unadjusted analyses, lifestyle factors accounted for 12.2% of the inter-subject variability in IIEF-5 scores, comparable to the proportion explained by comorbid conditions (14.7%) and socioeconomic status (9%). Lifestyle factors were also significantly associated with age, comorbid conditions and socioeconomic status (SES). A multivariate model including all covariates associated with ED explained 29% of the variance, with lifestyle factors accounting for 0.9% over and above all other covariates in the model. Analyses repeated in a subgroup of 1215 men without comorbid conditions show lifestyle factors accounting for 2.5% of the variance after accounting for all other variables in the model.

Conclusions: Results of the present study demonstrate the contribution of modifiable lifestyle factors to the prevalence of ED. These results suggest a role for behavior modification in the prevention of ED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / prevention & control
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*