Background Osteoporosis can lead to severe complications, which can affect quality of life and increase the cost of health care. Previous studies have reported low rates of screening and treatment of osteoporosis in women older than 65 years. Despite available Medicare coverage for DEXA scan, the rate of screening and treatment for osteoporosis remains low. Patients' knowledge of a personal diagnosis of osteoporosis might affect their screening.
Methods We performed a cohort quality improvement study; women over age 67 were recruited from 13 US outpatient clinics. We report preliminary results from the first 137 participants. Patients were administered a survey with items regarding demographics, osteoporosis knowledge, and health status. Chart reviews were conducted to document osteoporosis screening and treatment. The educational intervention performed consisted of a short educational video about osteoporosis provided to the patients and a grand rounds lecture coupled with a series of brief educational e-mails for residents and faculty. Descriptive data were compiled and bivariate analyses were performed.
Results Preliminary results revealed that 18 patients met the criteria for diagnoses of osteoporosis by DEXA scan (T score “139} −2.5). Only 50% of women with evidence of osteoporosis stated that their health care provider informed them of a diagnosis of osteoporosis, whereas 22.7% of women with no evidence of osteoporosis answered that they were informed of this diagnosis (p < .014); 30.6% of patients with osteoporosis think that they don't have osteoporosis (p < .003).
Conclusion In this limited sample, poor communication regarding the diagnosis of osteoporosis appears prevalent. This situation likely serves as a barrier to adequate screening and treatment of the disease. Patient education and better communication between physician and patient will be necessary to achieve better rates of treatment and screening. Postintervention chart review (4 months after survey) will help us assess the efficacy of the patient and physician educational interventions.
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