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Osteoporos Int. 2004 Apr;15(4):329-34. Epub 2004 Jan 16.

Awareness of osteoporosis among physicians in China.

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Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, 102 Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.


Epidemiological studies have projected a vast increase in osteoporotic fractures in Asia, with the majority occurring in China. Awareness of osteoporosis among medical professionals and the pattern of management in Asia have not been explored. A total of 504 doctors in Hong Kong, China with their self-reported practice likely to receive clients with or at risk of osteoporosis were invited to complete a postal questionnaire on the diagnosis and management of their osteoporotic patients. In all, 204 questionnaires were returned, with a response rate of 41%. Only 76% of the respondents reported treating osteoporosis patients in their practice. Ninety-one percent believed that osteoporosis was under-diagnosed. The asymptomatic nature of the disease (66%), inaccessibility (45%) and high cost (54%) of the diagnostic tools were considered major reasons for under-diagnosis. DXA was employed for diagnosis by only 53% of the doctors. Peripheral machines such as ultrasound and quantitative computed tomography were used by 35% of the responders as the only diagnostic tool, especially among clinic-based doctors (clinic-based physicians 47%, hospital-based physicians 17%; P<0.001). Thirty-three percent of the surveyed doctors were unaware of published guidelines for bone mineral density (BMD) measurements. Concerning treatment goals, 82% considered prevention of future fractures and 66% believed improvement in the quality of life of patients as critical or highly important, whereas only about half of the doctors thought that increase in BMD was important. On the other hand, 60% of the doctors considered the cost of therapy a critical or highly important element in the management of osteoporosis. This study showed that physicians in Hong Kong were aware of osteoporosis, though the disease was still under-diagnosed due to inaccessibility and high cost of the diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents. These findings stress the importance of expanding efforts to increase knowledge and awareness among health care providers and also provide future directions for developing strategies for managing osteoporosis in developing Asian regions.

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