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Recent community-based population surveys have revealed a much greater prevalence of benign prostatic hyperplasia than previously suspected. From these data it has been projected that there may be more than 2 million men in the UK whose quality of life is to some extent impaired by this disorder. Since there are only 330 fully trained urologists in this country it will not be feasible for every individual presenting with prostatism to be assessed by a specialist. In an attempt to provide a more rational basis from which family practitioners can decide whether or not to refer a patient for a specialist opinion a 'shared care' flow diagram was developed and assumptions contained within field tested by means of a postal questionnaire which was sent to 2020 urologists, family practitioners and other interested clinicians. There was general agreement with most of the precepts set out in the flow diagram, the main exception was a rejection of the suggestion that every patient with prostatism should have a prostate-specific antigen level determined before referral. We conclude that there seems a consensus among respondents that a shared care approach to the management of BPH may both improve the standard of care provided in this area by family practitioners and allow hard pressed urologists to focus greater attention on those patients whose conditions require surgical expertise to resolve.