Effect of prefracture versus postfracture dietary assessment on hip fracture risk estimates

Int J Epidemiol. 1996 Apr;25(2):403-10. doi: 10.1093/ije/25.2.403.


Background: Dietary factors are presumed to have influence on bone mass and hence fracture susceptibility. Most information in this respect is based on retrospective assessment of previous dietary habits. In a population-based case-control study nested within a cohort, we collected dietary information both before and after a first hip fracture. Thus it was possible to study reported changes in dietary habits, intentional as well as unintentional, among hip fracture patients after a first hip fracture and to compare postfracture with prefracture dietary information.

Methods: More than 65 000 women born 1914-1948 in two counties in central Sweden completed a food frequency questionnaire regarding their usual current dietary habits, before attending a mammographic screening between the years 1987 and 1990. Subsequently 123 of them sustained a first hip fracture and were defined as cases in the present study. For every case, one control, individually matched by age and county of residence, was selected from the cohort. A second identical food frequency questionnaire was mailed to both cases and controls on average 2 years after the hip fracture event. In total 98 case/control pairs could be included in the analysis. The association between diet and hip fracture was evaluated and the results from the two dietary assessments were contrasted. Women who themselves claimed that they had not changed their diet in recent years were analysed separately.

Results: The hip fracture cases, compared with the controls, had reduced their reported dietary intake of dairy products after the fracture. Apparently this was not intentional since this effect was more pronounced among those cases who claimed that their diet was unchanged. The changes were most apparent among the younger cases with a more recent hip fracture and with a body mass index above the median. Half of the cases, more than twice the frequency in controls, who were initially classified as having high intake of dairy products were classified as having low intake (<800 mg calcium/day) after the hip fracture. This also lowered, in fact reversed, the relative risk estimates of hip fracture both for intake of dairy products and calcium. Crude odds ratios of highest quartile of intake versus lowest, changed from 3.0 to 0.6 for dairy products and from 2.6 to 0.9 for calcium. No other foods or nutrients displayed such notable differences between the two surveys.

Conclusion: We conclude that the use of current and retrospective dietary information after a hip fracture can lead to a differential misclassification in dietary studies and to biased estimates of hip fracture risk as compared with prospectively collected dietary information.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hip Fractures / epidemiology
  • Hip Fractures / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology