Fragility fractures and the osteoporosis care gap: an international phenomenon

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Apr;35(5):293-305. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2005.11.001.


Objectives: To describe practice patterns in the management of osteoporosis after fragility fracture.

Methods: Systematic review of articles in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, and CINAHL databases (1996 to February 2005). Diagnostic outcomes included clinical osteoporosis diagnoses, laboratory tests, and bone density scans. Treatment outcomes included initiation of calcium, vitamin D, hormone replacement therapy, bisphosphonates, calcitonin, raloxifene and falls assessments.

Results: Thirty-five studies met our inclusion criteria and demonstrated that adults who experience fragility fracture are not receiving osteoporosis management. An osteoporosis diagnosis was reported in 1 to 45% of patients with fractures; laboratory tests were ordered for 1 to 49% and 1 to 32% of patients had bone density scans. Calcium/vitamin D and pharmacological therapy was reported in 2 to 62% and 1 to 65% of patients, respectively. Osteoporosis treatment was recommended more often in women than men, and more often in patients with vertebral fractures than in patients with nonvertebral fractures. Older patients were more likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis, but treatment was more likely in younger patients. A history of prior fracture was reported in 7 to 67% of patients. Between 1 and 22% of patients had a subsequent fracture during follow-up periods of 6 months to 5 years. Falls assessments were not often reported; when they were, they were infrequently performed. A greater proportion of patients were diagnosed/treated during follow-up studies than in studies evaluating diagnosis/treatment on discharge from acute care.

Conclusions: The majority of individuals who sustain fragility fractures are not receiving adequate osteoporosis management. Future research should address barriers to appropriate management and the efficacy of implementation strategies designed to close the osteoporosis care gap.

Relevance: This article is of particular importance to health care professionals who provide care for patients with fragility fracture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fractures, Spontaneous / etiology*
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / prevention & control*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / complications*
  • Osteoporosis / therapy*