Closing the osteoporosis management gap in primary care: a secondary prevention of fracture programme

Curr Med Res Opin. 2005 Apr;21(4):475-82. doi: 10.1185/030079905X38150.


Background: Effective treatments are available to reduce fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis. Prioritisation of assessment and treatment for those patients at highest risk of fracture will and treatment for those patients at highest risk of fracture will will ensure the optimal utilisation of healthcare resources.

Objectives: To confirm prior fracture to be a strong predictor of osteoporosis, evaluate a simple means of identifying patients with osteoporosis, assess the current management gap in this high risk patient group and to enable initiation of treatment where appropriate.

Research design and methods: All women >/=65 years of age living at home and registered with a general practitioner (GP) in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland (4045) were mailed an osteoporosis questionnaire. Participants were from an area of generally low socioeconomic background, where 16% of the population are over >/=65 years and >/=99% are Caucasian. Those who had sustained a fracture or had >/=2 osteoporosis risk factors and had not previously been screened for osteoporosis were invited for a Dual energy X-ray Absorptiometry scan. A second group of women at high risk of osteoporosis were referred by their GP for a scan. Bone mineral density (BMD) was determined and treatment was reviewed and prescribed according to national guidelines.

Results: 2386/4045 women returned the questionnaire (response rate 59%); 2286 were correctly completed and made up the sample size. Eight hundred and fifty two had sustained >/=1 fracture(s), of whom 43 (5%) had previously had BMD testing and 80 (9.4%) were receiving treatment. There were 1434 women with no history of fracture that had >/=2 risk factors for osteoporosis. Of 395 women referred by their GP, 113 had sustained fractures. Following the audit, 1054 women were scanned, including 463 women who had not sustained fractures that had >/=2 osteoporosis risk factors. Of the 1054, 591 women had sustained 763 fractures: 46 (6.0%) hip, 284 (37.2%) wrist, 37 (4.8%) humerus and 396 (51.9%) other bones (mainly ankle or rib). Eighty (13.5%) women with a fracture history had normal BMD, 204 (34.5%) were osteopenic and 307 (51.9%) were osteoporotic. Older women were more likely to have osteoporosis: overall, 12.8%, 46.8% and 63.0% of women were osteoporotic in age groups <65 years, 65-75 years and >75 years, respectively. Treatment was prescribed according to Lanarkshire's osteoporosis guidelines for 670 (63.6%) patients: 90.0% received bisphosphonate + calcium/vitamin D and 10% received calcium/vitamin D.

Conclusions: A simple scan identified patients with prior fracture and with osteoporosis. Prior fracture was confirmed to be a strong predictor of osteoporosis; 86.4% of women with a fracture history had low BMD and 51.9% had osteoporosis. Similar disease management programmes elsewhere in primary care to identify high risk patients and ensure appropriate prescribing would, in addition to implementing national guidelines, be pharmaco-economically prudent and improve management of patients with fragility fracture across the UK.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control*
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / complications*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome