Sildenafil in the cardiologist's office: Patients' attitudes and physicians' practices toward discussions about sexual functioning
Authors: SE Bedell, TB Graboys, M Duperval, R Goldberg
The following study was conducted by researchers at the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation.
Sildenafil is a medication increasingly prescribed to improve sexual function in patients who have erectile dysfunction. Because a major contraindication to the use of sildenafil is a history of coronary disease and the concomitant use of nitrates, it becomes increasingly important for cardiologists to prescribe this medication. We evaluated the nature of discussions in all 70 patients for whom sildenafil was prescribed in a cardiology practice between April and July 1998. We used a standardized questionnaire to determine the patients' perspective on the sexual history and the extent to which they wanted their physicians to take a detailed history about sexuality. A separate chart review evaluated the nature of physicians' discussions about sexual functioning before sildenafil was prescribed. Fifty-five of the 70 patients (79%) responded to the survey. The majority of patients (98%) felt that physicians should talk with patients about sexual functioning. However, only 73% of patients believed their doctor was comfortable talking with them about this subject. Sixty percent of patients reported that their doctor had ever talked with them about erectile function and only 15% had ever had a discussion with their doctors about specific difficulties during intercourse. Based on the results of the chart review, only 24% of the patients ever specifically discussed the used of sildenafil with their physician prior to the time that it was prescribed. The results of the study suggest that patients with coronary disease erectile dysfunction are comfortable talking with their physicians about sexual functioning, but these conversations occur infrequently.