Health-related quality of life in men with erectile dysfunction

J Gen Intern Med. 1998 Mar;13(3):159-66. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.1998.00050.x.


Objective: To assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in men with erectile dysfunction.

Design: Descriptive survey with general and disease-specific measures. The instrument contained three established, validated HRQOL measures, a validated comorbidity checklist, and sociodemographics. The RAND 36-Item Health Survey 1.0 (SF-36) was used to assess general HRQOL. Sexual function and sexual bother were assessed using the UCLA Prostate Cancer Index. The marital interaction scale from the Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System Short Form (CARES-SF) was used to assess each patient's relationship with his sexual partner.

Setting: Urology clinics at a university medical center and the affiliated Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.

Participants: Thirty-five (67%) of 54 consecutive university patients presenting for erectile dysfunction and 22 (42%) of 52 VA patients who were awaiting a previously prescribed vacuum erection device participated.

Main results: The university respondents scored slightly lower than population normals in social function, role limitations due to emotional problems, and emotional well-being. The VA respondents scored lower than expected in all eight domains. Scores for the VA population were significantly lower than those for the university population in physical function, role limitations due to physical problems, bodily pain, and social function. A significant correlation was seen between marital interaction and sexual function (r = -.33, p = .01) but not between marital interaction and sexual bother (r = -.15, p = .26) in the total sample. Sexual function also correlated significantly with general health perceptions (r = .34, p = .01), role limitations due to physical problems (r = .29, p = .03), and role limitations due to emotional problems (r = .30, p = .03). Sexual bother did not correlate with any of the general HRQOL domains. Affluent men reported better sexual function (p = .03).

Conclusions: The emotional domains of the SF-36 are associated with more profound impairment than are the physical domains in men with erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction and the bother it causes are discrete domains of HRQOL and distinct from each other in these patients. With increased attention to patient-centered medical outcomes, greater emphasis has been placed on such variables as HRQOL. This should be particularly true for a patient-driven symptom, such as erectile dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Emotions
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires