Clinical guidelines have been seen as a tool for improving management of osteoporosis in order to prevent fragility fractures. However, the impact of guidelines on clinical management of osteoporosis has not been measured. We examined medical investigation and treatment before and after the 2002 Canadian guidelines publication and examined if practice changes were different between rural and urban areas.
We conducted a retrospective population-based observational study using secondary data analysis. Two studied populations were selected; one before, the other after the publication of Canadian practice guidelines. The studied populations consisted of all individuals 65 years or older from Quebec (Canada) for whom a physician claimed a consultation or have been hospitalized for fragility fracture between the two predefined periods.
There was no significant difference in the rate of bone mineral density testing for women before and after guidelines publication. For men a statistically significant increase was observed but remained very low. A significant increase in bisphosphonates prescribing, but no increased in the reporting of a diagnosis of osteoporosis were observed. A significant reduction of hormonal replacement therapy was seen during the year following guidelines publication. The strongest significant increases were mostly seen in urban regions compared to rural areas.
Very small changes were observed for diagnostic recognition by physicians, diagnostic testing and some recommended drugs prescribing following guidelines publication. This suggests low guidelines impact on medical practice for osteoporosis in patients suffering fragility fractures.