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Houston-Based Study Reports Teen Misuse of Erectile Dysfunction Drug
Curiosity, peer pressure and coercion by partners are among the reasons teenagers misuse a commonly prescribed medication for erectile dysfunction, according to a study led by researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health.
The study, titled "Beliefs and Social Norms about Sildenafil Citrate (Viagra) Misuse and Perceived Consequences among Houstonian Teenage Males," is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Men's Health.
Principal investigator Ronald J. Peters Jr., Dr.PH, assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral science, interviewed 43 men between the ages of 18 and 19 who were participating in an outpatient drug treatment program.
All the teenagers stated that they were current Viagra? users. Forty-two percent cited curiosity as the reason they initially took the medication. Thirty percent of survey respondents said peer pressure led to their Viagra misuse, and 7 percent said their partners coerced them into taking sildenafil citrate. Only 19 percent reported taking Viagra for its intended use, which is to treat male impotence.
"This is a small study and may not be representative of what all teenagers are doing, but these findings illustrate that sildenafil citrate misuse may be viewed among some young men in treatment programs in the southwestern region of the United States as a normalized social event," Peters said.
Advertisements and friends played a role in the teens' exposure to Viagra, which is manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said they first heard about Viagra from advertisements on television or at sporting events. Nineteen percent of those surveyed heard about the medication from friends. An overwhelming majority - 84 percent - reported that they were with friends or a girlfriend the first time they took sildenafil citrate.
The study also found a family connection to Viagra misuse. Thirty-two percent of teens first heard about the erectile dysfunction medication from their father or other family members.
By Meredith Raine, Institutional Advancement
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