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Urology

Testosterone replacement therapy and the internet: an assessment of providers' health-related web site information content.


PMID 25817103

Abstract

To compare how providers of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in large metropolitan cities promote androgen replacement on their patient-oriented Web sites. 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. 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 ratioxa0=xa02.77; Pxa0<.01). Nine of 75 (12%) of all Web sites actually refuted that TRT was associated with significant side effects. 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.