Objectives: Chronic prostatitis is a common diagnosis, but the etiology of this disease is unknown. We sought to catalog symptoms and etiologic factors for chronic prostatitis to gather epidemiologic data about the disease. We also sought to determine the feasibility of doing this using the Internet.
Methods: A 54-questions survey was designed and posted to several Internet newsgroups dealing with chronic prostatitis. The questions dealt with symptoms, predisposing factors, demographic data, and sexual practices. Responses were collected by electronic mail and tabulated at a central site.
Results: We received 163 completed surveys over a 2-month period. Nine percent of responses came from individuals outside the United States or Canada. Only 9.8% of complete surveys contained one or more unreadable answers. The responding population consisted of relatively young men (mean age 43 years) with a chronic, relapsing set of symptoms mostly characterized by pain at various locations in the pelvis, irritative voiding symptoms, and pain associated with ejaculation. Most respondents were potent and had a single sexual partner.
Conclusions: This catalog of symptoms will be useful in the design of a standardized instrument to distinguish the population of men with prostatitis from normal men or men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. The facility of conducting patient surveys by Internet is demonstrated.