Primary care physicians' views on osteoporosis management: a qualitative study

Arch Osteoporos. 2019 Apr 26;14(1):48. doi: 10.1007/s11657-019-0599-9.


Osteoporosis is an under-diagnosed condition; only around 14% of patients in Sweden receive bone-specific treatment after a fragility fracture. This qualitative interview study found that primary care physicians perceive osteoporosis as a silent disease that is overshadowed by other conditions and is complicated to manage.

Purpose: To explore primary care physicians' views on managing osteoporosis.

Methods: A total of 17 primary care physicians in Stockholm participated in four focus group interviews. Interview transcripts were analysed with thematic analysis.

Results: One main theme was found: Osteoporosis-a silent disease overshadowed by other conditions. The main theme contained five sub-themes. Physicians perceived osteoporosis as a low-priority issue. They described uncertainty about managing it and insufficient awareness of the condition in primary healthcare (PHC). Physicians had differing opinions about who is responsible for managing osteoporosis. They reported that the health care system regulated their work such that they gave low priority to the condition. They were uncertain about the value of the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX). The physicians thought that financial incentives, education, and increased collaboration with other relevant health care professionals and with patients were needed to increase the priority of osteoporosis in PHC.

Conclusion: Physicians perceived osteoporosis as a silent disease that is complicated to manage. They gave low priority to osteoporosis and thought their patients shared this view. The physicians saw other issues and medical conditions as more important than osteoporosis. They wanted better collaboration at their PHC centres and with hospitals. They also wanted district nurses to be more involved in managing osteoporosis and especially in assessing fracture risk.

Keywords: Focus group interviews; Fragility fractures; Osteoporosis; Primary care physicians; Qualitative study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / psychology*
  • Physicians, Primary Care / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sweden