Background Osteoporosis is a significant public health problem affecting 55% of women age 50 or older. The purpose of this study is to examine if the level of osteoporosis knowledge predicts DEXA screening behavior in at-risk women.
Methods Women were recruited from internal medicine clinics as part of multi-institutional prospective cohort study examining the effect of patient and physician education on osteoporosis screening rates. Women were eligible to participate if (1) they were age 65 years or older as of June 1, 2004, and (2) were established patients with the respective clinics. Participants completed a 77-item questionnaire, of which 28 items covered their knowledge of osteoporosis and its risk factors. The answers were dichotomized to “know” or “don't know,” and respondents were given 1 point for each correct answer and 0 points for incorrect or “don't know” answers. An osteoporosis knowledge score was calculated.
Results Preliminary results from the first six sites and 137 cases are presented. Fifty-four percent of women were African American and 44% were white. The mean age of the sample was 74.5 (SD 6.35), and the mean knowledge score was 15.6 (SD 6.45). Patients who were educated by their doctor about protecting their bones (p = .0072) or who were diagnosed with osteoporosis (p = .0138) had higher knowledge scores. Higher knowledge score was associated with osteoporosis prevention behaviors, such as increased exercise frequency (p = .007) and taking calcium supplements (p = .0004). There was no association between osteoporosis knowledge scores and smoking cessation, reduced caffeine consumption, or DEXA scan screening rates (p > .05).
Conclusion Osteoporosis knowledge is associated with some prevention behaviors. The more addictive behaviors appear more difficult to curtail. Nevertheless, interventions that involve doctors and other educational providers could potentially improve behaviors that lead to fracture prevention.
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