Engagement in Primary Prevention Program among Rural Veterans With Osteoporosis Risk

JBMR Plus. 2022 Oct 3;6(10):e10682. doi: 10.1002/jbm4.10682. eCollection 2022 Oct.


A primary osteoporosis prevention program using a virtual bone health team (BHT) was implemented to comanage the care of rural veterans in the Mountain West region of the United States. The BHT identified, screened, and treated rural veterans at risk for osteoporosis using telephone and United States Postal Service communications. Eligibility was determined by regular use of Veterans Health Administration primary care, age 50 or older, and evidence of fracture risk. This study was conducted to identify demographic and clinical factors associated with the acceptance of osteoporosis screening and the initiation of medication where indicated. A cross-sectional cohort design (N = 6985) was utilized with a generalized estimating equation and logit link function to account for facility-level clustering. Fully saturated and reduced models were fitted using backward selection. Less than a quarter of eligible veterans enrolled in BHT's program and completed screening. Factors associated with a lower likelihood of clinic enrollment included being of older age, unmarried, greater distance from VHA services, having a copayment, prior fracture, or history of rheumatoid arthritis. A majority of veterans with treatment indication started medication therapy (N = 453). In this subpopulation, Fisher's exact test showed a significant association between osteoporosis treatment uptake and a history of two or more falls in the prior year, self-reported parental history of fracture, current smoking, and weight-bearing exercise. The BHT was designed to reduce barriers to screening; however, for this population cost and travel continue to limit engagement. The remarkable rate of medication initiation notwithstanding, low enrollment reduces the impact of this primary prevention program, and findings pertaining to fracture, smoking, and exercise imply that health beliefs are an important contributing factor. Efforts to identify and address barriers to osteoporosis screening and treatment, such as clinical factors, social determinants of health, and health beliefs, may pave the way for effective implementation of population bone health care delivery systems. Published 2022. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. JBMR Plus published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.