Declining Rates of Osteoporosis Management Following Fragility Fractures in the U.S., 2000 Through 2009
Akhila Balasubramanian, PhD; Laura L. Tosi, MD; Joseph M. Lane, MD; Douglas R. Dirschl, MD; Pei-Ran Ho, MD; Cynthia D. O’Malley, PhD


Background: Clinical practice recommendations state that patients with fragility fractures should be evaluated for osteoporosis and treated for the disease if it is present. The purpose of this study was to assess osteoporosis evaluation and treatment patterns for patients with fragility fractures and assess whether anti-osteoporosis pharmacotherapy initiated immediately following a fragility fracture is associated with improved adherence to the treatment protocol.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study involved data from a large commercially insured population seen in the period from 2001 through 2009. Patients were community-dwelling individuals aged fifty years or older who had a new low-energy fracture at the hip, vertebra, wrist, or humerus with no evidence of a fragility fracture, osteoporosis treatment, malignant disease, or Paget disease for twelve months preceding the fracture. Rates of diagnostic testing and pharmacotherapy for osteoporosis within twelve months post-fracture were evaluated. Patients treated with oral bisphosphonates were evaluated to determine whether twelve-month adherence to the treatment protocol differed between those who had initiated therapy sooner (at zero to ninety days) and those who initiated it later (at ninety-one to 365 days) following the fracture.

Results: The 88,571 women and 41,984 men had an average age of 72.3 years and 70.5 years, respectively. Nineteen percent (16,464) of the women and 10% (4014) of the men initiated osteoporosis pharmacotherapy, and 30% (26,481) of the women and 15% (6427) of the men underwent diagnostic testing and/or pharmacotherapy following fracture. Treatment rates were highest following vertebral fracture and lowest following wrist or humeral fracture. Treatment rates significantly decreased over time (from 2001 through 2009). The average twelve-month adherence (medication possession ratio) was 56% and 61% among women and men, respectively. Adherence was similar between patients who had initiated treatment sooner after the fracture and those who had initiated it later after the fracture.

Conclusions: Clinical guidelines for evaluation and treatment following fragility fracture were met for less than one-third of women and less than one-sixth of men. While primary fracture prevention remains the ideal, secondary prevention is critical and there is a need to reverse the downward trend in adherence to post-fracture guidelines.

Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.


  • Investigation performed at Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks, California

  • Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

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