To survey physicians in Ontario regarding their approach to diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis among residents of long-term care facilities.
Mailed questionnaire covering physician demographics; current clinical practice relating to osteoporosis; and perceived barriers to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease.
Long-term care facilities in Ontario.
Medical directors of long-term care facilities.
Demographic variables; physician attitudes; and practices concerning awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis.
Respondents returned 275 of 490 questionnaires, for a response rate of 56.1%. Most respondents (92.4%) were family physicians; 28.7% were caring for more than 100 patients in long-term care. Most (85.8%) saw from one to 10 hip fractures yearly in their practices. Although 49.6% of respondents estimated the prevalence of osteoporosis to be 40% to 80% among their long-term care patients, 45.5% said that they did not routinely assess their patients for the disease, and 26.8% do not routinely treat it. Half (50.9%) of physicians would treat patients at high risk based on clinical history; 47.9% if patients had a vertebral compression fracture on plain x-ray examination; 43.8% if patients were highly functional; 42.0% if osteoporosis were confirmed with bone mineral densitometry; and 30.0% if patients had a recent fracture. Perceived barriers to initiating treatment included cost of therapy, patient or family reluctance to accept therapy, and time or cost of diagnosis.
Although physicians are aware that patients in long-term care facilities are at high risk for osteoporosis and hip fractures, the disease remains underdiagnosed and undertreated.