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Mayo Clin Proc. 2005 Feb;80(2):194-202.

Medication use patterns for osteoporosis: an assessment of guidelines, treatment rates, and quality improvement interventions.

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  • 1Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass 02120, USA.



To assess current osteoporosis treatment guidelines, studies of osteoporosis treatment, and interventions to improve osteoporosis treatment.


We searched the medical literature for articles published between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2003, and assessed all relevant articles using a structured data abstraction process. Because of substantial heterogeneity in study design, no attempt was made to summarize the data using meta-analytic techniques.


Seventy-six articles met criteria for inclusion. Eighteen practice guidelines were studied. Most guidelines were consistent in key treatment recommendations. Among 18 studies of treatment rates in patients who had fractures, the weighted average varied from 22% for nonhormonal treatment to 19% for calcium. We found slightly higher treatment rates for patients taking oral glucocorticoids or for those older than 65 years. There were no consistent correlates of which patients received treatment. Six studies that examined treatment frequencies after bone densitometry all found that patients with lower bone mineral density were more likely to receive treatment. Most of the 8 interventions designed to improve osteoporosis treatment showed improvement in treatment rates; however, only 3 were randomized, and these showed the smallest effects.


Frequency of treatment of osteoporosis in at-risk populations is low. However, our assessment of the literature revealed no clear and consistent predictors of undertreatment. Few carefully controlled interventions have been reported.

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