Does insufficient access to dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) stifle the provision of quality osteoporosis care in New Zealand?

Arch Osteoporos. 2013;8:120. doi: 10.1007/s11657-013-0120-9. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Abstract

Access to dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning varies significantly throughout New Zealand with the majority of scans funded privately or through the health industry. Barriers to access need to be addressed if osteoporosis guidelines are to be implemented across the country equitably, to reduce the incidence and cost of fragility fractures in New Zealand.

Purpose: This study aims (1) to estimate the number of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans performed in New Zealand, (2) to determine funding sources of DXA scans and (3) to determine the level of regional variation in access.

Methods: DXA scan providers in New Zealand were accessed through a nationwide database and asked to provide data on DXA scans performed in 2007. The numbers of DXA scans performed in each District Health Board (DHB) region were calculated by using a funding source and compared with DHB population estimates provided by Statistics New Zealand for 2007.

Results: In New Zealand in 2007, 33,104 DXA scans were performed, with a population rate of 78.1 DXA scans per annum per 10,000 general population, significantly less than international guidelines. There were important regional differences in access to DXA scanning. Funding for scans was predominately by private and pharmaceutical industry funders. DHBs funded only 31 % of DXA scans during this time period.

Conclusions: Access to DXA scan technology varies significantly throughout New Zealand, with the majority of DXA scans funded by the private sector or health industry. Barriers to access need to be addressed if osteoporosis guidelines are to be implemented across the country in an equitable fashion and so reduce the incidence and cost of fragility fractures to New Zealand.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / economics
  • Absorptiometry, Photon / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*