Improving osteoporosis screening: results from a randomized cluster trial

J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Mar;22(3):346-51. doi: 10.1007/s11606-006-0060-9.


Background: Despite recommendations, osteoporosis screening rates among women aged 65 years and older remain low. We present results from a clustered, randomized trial evaluating patient mailed reminders, alone and in combination with physician prompts, to improve osteoporosis screening and treatment.

Methods: Primary care clinics (n = 15) were randomized to usual care, mailed reminders alone, or mailed reminders with physician prompts. Study patients were females aged 65-89 years (N = 10,354). Using automated clinical and pharmacy data, information was collected on bone mineral density testing, pharmacy dispensings, and other patient characteristics. Unadjusted/adjusted differences in testing and treatment were assessed using generalized estimating equation approaches.

Results: Osteoporosis screening rates were 10.8% in usual care, 24.1% in mailed reminder, and 28.9% in mailed reminder with physician prompt. Results adjusted for differences at baseline indicated that mailed reminders significantly improved testing rates compared to usual care, and that the addition of prompts further improved testing. This effect increased with patient age. Treatment rates were 5.2% in usual care, 8.4% in mailed reminders, and 9.1% in mailed reminders with prompt. No significant differences were found in treatment rates between those receiving mailed reminders alone or in combination with physician prompts. However, women receiving usual care were significantly less likely to be treated.

Conclusions: The use of mailed reminders, either alone or with physician prompts, can significantly improve osteoporosis screening and treatment rates among insured primary care patients (Clinical number NCT00139425).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Reminder Systems

Associated data