Testosterone Replacement Therapy and the Internet: An Assessment of Providers' Health-related Web Site Information Content

Daniel T. Oberlin, Puneet Masson, Robert E. Brannigan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective To compare how providers of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in large metropolitan cities promote androgen replacement on their patient-oriented Web sites. Materials and Methods TRT provider Web sites were identified using Google search and the terms "Testosterone replacement" and the name of the 5 most populous US cities. These Web sites were assessed for (1) type or specialty of medical provider, (2) discussion of the benefits and risks of TRT, and (3) industry affiliations. Results In total, 75 Web sites were evaluated. Twenty-seven of the 75 clinics (36%) were directed by nonphysicians, 35 (47%) were overseen by nonurology or nonendocrine physicians, and only 13 (17%) were specialist managed. Fourteen of 75 (18.6%) Web sites disclosed industry relationships. Ninety-five percent of Web sites promoted the benefits of TRT including improved sex drive, cognitive improvement, increased muscle strength, and/or improved energy. Only 20 of 75 Web sites (26.6%) described any side effect of TRT. Web sites directed by specialists were twice as likely to discuss risks of TRT compared with nonspecialist providers (41% vs 20%; odds ratio = 2.77; P <.01). Nine of 75 (12%) of all Web sites actually refuted that TRT was associated with significant side effects. Conclusion Urologists and endocrinologists are in the minority of providers promoting TRT on the Internet. Specialists are more likely to discuss risks associated with TRT although the majority of surveyed Web sites that promote TRT do not mention treatment risks. There is substantial variability in quality and quantity of information on provider Web sites, which may contribute to misinformation regarding this prevalent health issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-818
Number of pages5
JournalUrology
Volume85
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Testosterone Replacement Therapy and the Internet: An Assessment of Providers' Health-related Web Site Information Content'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this