Introduction: Older patients with fragility fractures are not commonly tested or treated for osteoporosis. Compared to usual care, a previously reported intervention led to 30% absolute increases in osteoporosis treatment within 6 months of wrist fracture. Our objective was to examine longer-term outcomes, reproducibility, and cost-effectiveness of this intervention.
Methods: We conducted an extended analysis of a non-randomized controlled trial with blinded ascertainment of outcomes that compared a multifaceted intervention to usual care controls. Patients >50 years with a wrist fracture treated in two Emergency Departments in the province of Alberta, Canada were included; those already treated for osteoporosis were excluded. Overall, 102 patients participated in this study (55 intervention and 47 controls; median age: 66 years; 78% were women). The interventions consisted of faxed physician reminders that contained osteoporosis treatment guidelines endorsed by opinion leaders and patient counseling. Controls received usual care; at 6-months post-fracture, when the original trial was completed, all controls were crossed-over to intervention. The main outcomes were rates of osteoporosis testing and treatment within 6 months (original study) and 1 year (delayed intervention) of fracture, and 1-year persistence with treatments started. From the perspective of the healthcare payer, the cost-effectiveness (using a Markov decision-analytic model) of the intervention was compared with usual care over a lifetime horizon.
Results: Overall, 40% of the intervention patients (vs. 10% of the controls) started treatment within 6 months post-fracture, and 82% (95%CI: 67-96%) had persisted with it at 1-year post-fracture. Delaying the intervention to controls for 6 months still led to equivalent rates of bone mineral density (BMD) testing (64 vs. 60% in the original study; p = 0.72) and osteoporosis treatment (43 vs. 40%; p = 0.77) as previously reported. Compared with usual care, the intervention strategy was dominant - per patient, it led to a $13 Canadian (U.S. $9) cost savings and a gain of 0.012 quality-adjusted life years. Base-case results were most sensitive to assumptions about treatment cost; for example, a 50% increase in the price of osteoporosis medication led to an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $24,250 Canadian (U.S. $17,218) per quality-adjusted life year gained.
Conclusions: A pragmatic intervention directed at patients and physicians led to substantial improvements in osteoporosis treatment, even when delivered 6-months post-fracture. From the healthcare payer's perspective, the intervention appears to have led to both cost-savings and gains in life expectancy.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00175214.