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Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Jun;23(6):1227-37. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Physician and patient perceptions on the use of vitamin D and calcium in osteoporosis treatment: a European and Latin American perspective.

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  • 1Saint Vincent Hospital, Vienna, Austria.



Although osteoporosis treatment guidelines include recommendations for calcium and vitamin D intake, routine use of adequate supplementation often is low. This study explored the attitudes of physicians and patients towards vitamin D and calcium and patient use of both supplements.


A survey of randomly selected physicians in the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Austria, and the first seven eligible women with osteoporosis from each of their practices, was conducted. Physicians were asked to rate the importance of vitamin D and calcium in osteoporosis management on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = not important at all, 10 = extremely important) and to estimate use of calcium and vitamin D supplements by their patients. Patients were asked about their own use of vitamin D and calcium, and their perceptions regarding these supplements.


Altogether 151 physicians (50 in Austria, 51 in the UK, and 50 in Mexico), and 910 osteoporosis patients (350 in Austria, 212 in UK, and 348 in Mexico) completed telephone surveys. Approximately, 86%, 28%, and 46% of physicians rated importance of vitamin D and calcium as being 9 or 10 in Austria, UK, and Mexico, respectively. Overall, 50% of patients reported taking calcium and vitamin D supplements (47% of these on a daily basis and 46% on a regular basis), and 19% of patients reported that they had no discussions with their physicians about calcium, while 39% reported no discussion about vitamin D.


Despite the recognition by physicians and patients that vitamin D and calcium are important for bone health, only a small proportion of patients regularly take supplements. This is the case even when vitamin D and calcium supplements are provided free with osteoporosis drug prescriptions, as occurs in Austria. However, these results rely on patient self-report of compliance which can lead to overestimation. In addition this study's participants may not be representative of other patient populations. This study provides additional evidence that compliance with treatment guidelines is suboptimal, and highlights the need for further study to explore the discrepancy between the highly perceived importance of vitamin D and calcium and the low use of both supplements, and to improve use among osteoporosis patients.

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