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Jasuja GK, Bhasin S, Reisman JI, Hanlon JT, Miller DR, Morreale AP, Pogach LM, Cunningham FE, Park A, Berlowitz DR, Rose AJ. Who Gets Testosterone? Patient Characteristics Associated with Testosterone Prescribing in the Veteran Affairs System: a Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of general internal medicine. 2017 Mar 1; 32(3):304-311.
BACKGROUND: There has been concern about the growing off-label use of testosterone. Understanding the context within which testosterone is prescribed may contribute to interventions to improve prescribing. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate patient characteristics associated with receipt of testosterone. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. SETTING: A national cohort of male patients, who had received at least one outpatient prescription within the Veterans Affairs (VA) system during Fiscal Year 2008- Fiscal Year 2012. PARTICIPANTS: The study sample consisted of 682,915 non-HIV male patients, of whom 132,764 had received testosterone and a random 10% sample, 550,151, had not. MAIN MEASURES: Conditions and medications associated with testosterone prescription. KEY RESULTS: Only 6.3% of men who received testosterone from the VA during the study period had a disorder of the testis, pituitary or hypothalamus associated with male hypogonadism. Among patients without a diagnosed disorder of hypogonadism, the use of opioids and obesity were the strongest predictors of testosterone prescription. Patients receiving > 100 mg/equivalents of oral morphine daily (adjusted odds ratio? = 5.75, p? < 0.001) and those with body mass index (BMI) > 40 kg/m2 (adjusted odds ratio? = 3.01, p? < 0.001) were more likely to receive testosterone than non-opioid users and men with BMI < 25 kg/m2. Certain demographics (age 40-54, White race), comorbid conditions (sleep apnea, depression, and diabetes), and medications (antidepressants, systemic corticosteroids) also predicted a higher likelihood of testosterone receipt, all with an adjusted odds ratio less than 2 (p? < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: In the VA, 93.7% of men receiving testosterone did not have a diagnosed condition of the testes, pituitary, or hypothalamus. The strongest predictors of testosterone receipt (e.g., obesity, receipt of opioids), which though are associated with unapproved, off-label use, may be valid reasons for therapy. Interventions should aim to increase the proportion of testosterone recipients who have a valid indication.