Missed opportunities for prevention of osteoporotic fracture

Arch Intern Med. 2002 Feb 25;162(4):450-6. doi: 10.1001/archinte.162.4.450.


Background: Osteoporotic fracture is a growing public health problem burden to society. Despite the importance of physician practices in preventing it, relatively little is known about the osteoporosis-related practices of US physicians.

Methods: A total of 1500 female members of a Connecticut independent practice association model health plan (aged 40-69 years) were surveyed to identify women's receipt of osteoporosis-related services (eg, prevention counseling, bone mineral density [BMD] testing, and communication about treatment options). These findings were compared with recommendations of the US Preventive Services Task Force and the National Osteoporosis Foundation. We received 1007 completed questionnaires, for a response rate of 69%.

Results: Only 49% of the sample reported that a health care provider ever discussed osteoporosis with them. In multivariate analyses, women with multiple risk factors were not more likely than other women to have been counseled about osteoporosis and its prevention, although those with an osteopenia/osteoporosis diagnosis were. In contrast to National Osteoporosis Foundation recommendations, only a small minority of high-risk women (12%-34%) had their BMD tested. Although most women with an osteopenia/osteoporosis diagnosis reported receiving information on estrogen replacement therapy, calcium, and weight-bearing exercise, fewer reported receiving information on pharmaceutical alternatives to estrogen (33%) and vitamin D (20%).

Conclusions: The main trigger to physician counseling of women about osteoporosis and its prevention is an osteopenia/osteoporosis diagnosis. Women with multiple risk factors for osteoporosis are not being identified for preventive counseling interventions or BMD testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density
  • Connecticut
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Independent Practice Associations
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Osteoporosis / complications*
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires