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Selective adherence to antihypertensive medications as a patient-driven means to preserving sexual potency

Authors Voils CI, Sandelowski M, Dahm P, Blouin R, Bosworth HB, Oddone EZ, Steinhauser KE

Published 21 August 2008 Volume 2008:2 Pages 201—206


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Corrine I Voils1,2, Margarete Sandelowski3, Philipp Dahm4,5, Rachel Blouin1, Hayden B Bosworth1,2, Eugene Z Oddone1,2, Karen E Steinhauser1,2

1Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA; 2Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA; 3School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; 4Gainesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville, FL, USA; 5Department of Urology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Objective: To describe hypertensive patients’ experiences with sexual side effects and their consequences for antihypertensive medication adherence.

Methods: Data were from a study conducted to identify facilitators of and barriers to adherence to blood pressure-lowering regimens. Participants were 38 married and unmarried veterans with a diagnosis of hypertension and 13 female spouses. Eight patient and four spouse focus groups were conducted. A directed approach to content analysis was used to determine the facilitators of and barriers to adherence. For this report, all discussion concerning the topic of sexual relations was extracted.

Results: Male patients viewed sexual intercourse as a high priority and felt that a lack of sexual intercourse was unnatural. They pursued strategies to preserve their potency, including discontinuing or selectively adhering to their medications and obtaining treatments for impotence. In contrast, spouses felt that sexual intercourse was a low priority and that a lack of sexual intercourse was natural. They discouraged their husbands from seeking treatments for impotence.

Conclusion: Although the primary study was not designed to explore issues of sexual function, the issue emerged spontaneously in the majority of discussions, indicating that sexuality is important in this context for both male patients and their spouses. Physicians should address sexual side effects of antihypertensive medications with patients, ideally involving spouses.

Keywords: hypertension, sexual side effects, antihypertensive medication, adherence, blood pressure

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