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Ann Intern Med. 2005 Feb 1;142(3):173-81.

Association between screening for osteoporosis and the incidence of hip fracture.

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  • 1Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. <>



Because direct evidence for the effectiveness of screening is lacking, guidelines disagree on whether people should be screened for osteoporosis.


To determine whether population-based screening for osteoporosis in older adults is associated with fewer incident hip fractures than usual medical care.


Nonconcurrent cohort study.


Population-based cohort enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) from 4 states (California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina).


3107 adults 65 years of age and older who attended their CHS study visits in 1994-1995.


31 participant characteristics (including demographic characteristics, medical histories, medications, and physical examination findings) and incident hip fractures over 6 years of follow-up.


Bone density scans (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry [DEXA] at the hip) for participants in California and Pennsylvania (n = 1422) and usual care for participants in Maryland and North Carolina (n = 1685).


The incidence of hip fractures per 1000 person-years was 4.8 in the screened group and 8.2 in the usual care group. Screening was associated with a statistically significant lower hazard of hip fracture than usual care after adjustment for sex and propensity to be screened (Cox proportional hazard ratio, 0.64 [95% CI, 0.41 to 0.99]).


The mechanism of the association was unclear. A small unmeasured confounder that decreased the hazard of hip fracture could diminish or erase the observed association.


Use of hip DEXA scans to screen for osteoporosis in older adults was associated with 36% fewer incident hip fractures over 6 years compared with usual medical care. Further research is needed to explore the mechanism of this association.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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