Adherence with osteoporosis practice guidelines: a multilevel analysis of patient, physician, and practice setting characteristics

Am J Med. 2004 Dec 15;117(12):919-24. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2004.06.040.


Purpose: The diagnosis and treatment of patients at risk of fragility fractures is uncommon. We examined the patient, physician, and practice characteristics associated with adherence to local osteoporosis guidelines.

Methods: Data were obtained from electronic medical records from one academic medical center. Local guidelines suggest screening and consideration of treatment for at-risk patients, including women aged > or =65 years, women aged 50 to 64 years who smoke cigarettes, persons who used more than 5 mg of oral prednisone for >3 months, and those with a history of a fracture after age 45 years. Clinical notes, medication lists, and radiology records were reviewed to determine whether patients had undergone bone mineral density testing or received any medications for osteoporosis. Possible correlates of guideline adherence, including patient, physician, and practice site characteristics, were assessed in mixed multivariable models.

Results: We identified 6311 at-risk patients seen by 160 doctors at 10 primary care sites during 2001 to 2002. Of these patients, 45% (n = 2820) had a prior bone mineral density test and 30% (n = 1922) had received a medication for osteoporosis; 54% (n = 3401) had one or the other. After adjusting for patient case mix, 17% to 71% of patients had been managed according to local guidelines and had undergone at least bone mineral density testing or received a medication. Patient variables that significantly lowered the probability of guideline adherence included age >74 years (odds ratio [OR] = 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.43 to 0.55), age <55 years (OR = 0.34; 95% CI: 0.28 to 0.42), male sex (OR = 0.17; 95% CI: 0.12 to 0.23), black race (OR = 0.40; 95% CI: 0.34 to 0.47), and having more than one comorbid condition (OR = 0.79; 95% CI: 0.69 to 0.89). Patients seen by male physicians were less likely to have care that was adherent with guidelines (OR = 0.70; 95% CI: 0.55 to 0.89).

Conclusion: Rates of adherence with local osteoporosis guidelines for patients at risk of fragility fractures vary by patient, physician, and practice site characteristic.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / therapy*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*