Use of osteoporosis medications in older nursing facility residents

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2007 Sep;8(7):453-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2007.04.002. Epub 2007 Aug 13.


Introduction: Epidemiologic studies demonstrated that 70% to 85% of nursing home residents have osteoporosis. Few studies report comprehensive information about treatment of osteoporosis in nursing facilities.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of osteoporosis treatment and identify resident characteristics associated with the use of antiresorptive medications or supplements indicated to treat osteoporosis in nursing homes.

Methods: The study design was cross-sectional. The Systematic Assessment of Geriatric Drug Use via Epidemiology database provided the data. From this database, 186,221 residents were identified as newly admitted to nursing facilities in Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, and South Dakota between 1998 and 2000. The outcome measure was the use of antiresorptive medications (alendronate, risedronate, calcitonin, estrogen, raloxifene) or supplements (calcium with vitamin D) indicated for treatment of osteoporosis. The independent variables included demographic, health status, and fracture risk factors.

Results: Of the overall sample, 9.1% received antiresorptive medications and/or supplements indicated for osteoporosis treatment. The most commonly used treatment was the combination of calcium and vitamin D (5.0%). Calcitonin (2.5%) use exceeded that of any other antiresorptive. Multivariable logistic regression analyses revealed that a diagnosis of osteoporosis and female gender were strongly associated with being more likely to receive an osteoporosis treatment (OR 6.34 with 95% CI 6.11-6.64 and OR 2.67 with 95% CI 2.53-2.83 respectively). The number of medications residents received was also strongly associated with receiving osteoporosis treatment. Being black and having 4 or more active diagnoses were strongly associated with lower odds of receiving treatment (OR 0.63 with 95% CI 0.57-0.68 and OR 0.71 with 95% CI 0.68-0.74 for 4 to 6 diagnoses).

Discussion: Newly admitted nursing facility residents infrequently received an indicated osteoporosis treatment, including calcium with vitamin D, despite the expected high prevalence of osteoporosis in this setting. Few demographic, health status, and fracture risk factors were strongly associated with receiving indicated treatment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Hip Fractures / etiology
  • Hip Fractures / prevention & control
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium