Management of osteoporosis in general practice: a cross-sectional survey of primary care practitioners in Spain

Osteoporos Int. 2004 Mar;15(3):252-7. doi: 10.1007/s00198-003-1569-y. Epub 2004 Jan 27.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine the current situation in Spain regarding diagnosis and care of patients with osteoporosis in the primary care setting. A total of 2,500 primary care physicians who were homogeneously grouped in autonomous communities throughout the country received a postal 30-item anonymous self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire covered demographics and personal characteristics of the physicians, conditions in everyday consultation, and degree of knowledge with regard to risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of the disease. The overall response was 850 (34%). The mean age of physicians surveyed was 43 years (range 23-66 years). The percentage of physicians specialized in community and family medicine was 46.7%. In 55.2% of cases, years of practice ranged between 11 and 20, and 55.7% of physicians visited between 31 and 50 patients per day. Age and years of practice were not associated with daily number of visits. Only 4% of physicians stated that there were specific programs for osteoporosis implemented in their primary care center. Diagnostic complementary investigations that could be ordered included plain radiographs in 96.2% of cases and bone densitometry in 27.8%. Laboratory tests included serum hormones in 61.6% of cases, PTH in 50.2%, and bone alkaline phosphatase in 33.4%. The diagnosis of osteoporosis was made always personally in 25.2% of cases. Personal diagnosis and follow-up, as well as actions directed to detection of osteoporosis were significantly higher among physicians working in centers with specific programs for osteoporosis. With regard to knowledge about osteoporosis, the mean percentage of correct responses was 63%. The percentage of correct responses was inversely associated with age and years of practice, and positively associated with speciality of community and family medicine. Primary care providers are in a good position to assess risk factors and recommend prevention strategies, as well as to play an active role in the diagnosis, care, and follow-up of patients with osteoporosis. Practitioners of younger age and relatively few years of practice were those with more up-to-date information regarding the disease, and the existence of a specific program for osteoporosis seems to improve the management of this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Medicine
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / therapy
  • Spain
  • Specialization