The objective of this study was to assess the association between frequency and bother of urinary symptoms in a population-based cohort of men and to identify psychosocial factors that are related to reporting heightened or subdued bother relative to symptom frequency. The survey was conducted among men aged forty to seventy-nine years in Olmsted County, Minnesota, the baseline component of a prospective cohort study. Men were queried about the frequency of urinary symptom occurrence and the perceived bother associated with the symptoms. A regression analysis of American Urologic Association (AUA) bother scores on AUA frequency scores demonstrated a tight correspondence (r2 = 0.71). Men with bother scores greater than predicted from their frequency scores were more likely to have sought health care for their urinary symptoms than men whose bother was close to predicted (14 versus 5 percent, respectively). These men with heightened bother were older, poorer, more anxious, and had lower general psychologic well-being scores than the men whose bother was similar to that expected from their reported frequency. Men whose bother was lower than would be expected were less likely to have sought health care for urinary symptoms in the past year (3%) but were of similar age and socioeconomic status as compared with men whose bother was close to expected. These men, however, were more depressed than men whose bother was commensurate with reported frequency. While the men who reported greater bother than expected from their symptom frequency were more likely to have sought medical care for urinary symptoms in the past year, it is not clear whether this greater health-care-seeking behavior is because bother captures an additional component of urologic disease or is a manifestation of psychosocial differences.
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