Background: Osteoporosis is very common in older women in the United States. Osteoporotic fractures cause significant morbidity and mortality, as well as high healthcare costs. Since 2002, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended screening for osteoporosis of all women aged ≥65. Our objective was to determine adherence to osteoporosis screening guidelines by primary care internists in a large academic medical center and to assess if adherence varies based on provider gender or practice location.
Methods: This was a retrospective electronic medical record (EMR) review. All women aged ≥65 who were seen in the General Internal Medicine Center (GIMC) or the Women's Health Care Center (WHCC) at the University of Washington Medical Center by internal medicine attending physicians between January 1, 2006, and February 2, 2008, were included in the study. We determined if the patient had a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) study in the EMR database. We calculated the percentage of patients screened per provider and also compared the rate of screening for male vs. female providers and for GIMC vs. WHCC providers.
Results: Of the 1363 women included in the study, 70% had documentation of a DEXA study. Adherence to screening recommendations for individual providers varied from 33% to 100%. Screening was more likely to occur in the WHCC than in the GIMC (79.2% vs. 66.7%, p<0.001). Although women providers were more likely to screen than their male counterparts (72.2% vs. 66.1%, p=0.023), this relationship did not hold true after excluding women providers from the WHCC.
Conclusions: We found good adherence to the USPSTF 2002 guidelines for osteoporosis screening in women aged ≥65 years by primary care physicians in a large urban academic medical center. The practice site and not gender of the provider resulted in significantly different screening rates.