Improving Provider Comfort with the Assessment and Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
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Sexuality and optimal erectile function are essential aspects of holistic care. Healthcare providers, however, do not routinely assess erectile function in male patients during the annual wellness exam. Men are more likely to seek medical attention for erectile dysfunction than other medical conditions, allowing providers to discover and treat underlying comorbidities sooner. Earlier identification and treatment of erectile dysfunction and accompanying comorbidities will reduce long-term medical costs and patient suffering. Primary health care providers are often the initial point of contact for patients with sexual health concerns. Existing practice often focuses on other aspects of disease and prevention, avoiding the discussion of sexual health and erectile function. A needs assessment survey gathered data from nurse practitioners belonging to the Texas Nurse Practitioners professional organization to assess reasons for perceived discomfort surrounding the topic of erectile dysfunction and sexual health, the desire for additional education about erectile dysfunction, and treatment practices. A total of 166 nurse practitioners completed the survey. The majority of nurse practitioners expressed an interest in additional training in sexual health assessment and treatment. Use of the International Index of Erectile Function or similar questionnaire, as the standard of practice during the annual exam for all male patients 40 years and older, will aid in facilitating the discussion and identification of erectile dysfunction and possible underlying comorbidities.
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