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Med Care. 2007 Sep;45(9):896-901.

Access to osteoporosis treatment is critically linked to access to dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry testing.

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Osteoporosis Research Program, Women's College Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine if inequities in access to osteoporosis investigation [dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) testing] and treatment (bisphosphonate, calcitonin, and/or raloxifene) exist among older women in a region with universal health care coverage.


Community-dwelling women aged 65-89 years residing within 2 regions of Ontario, Canada were randomly sampled. Data were collected by standardized telephone interview. Potential correlates of DXA testing (verified by physician records), and current treatment were grouped by type as: "predisposing characteristics," "enabling resources," or "need factors" based on hypothesized relationships formulated before data collection. Variables associated with each outcome independent of "need factors" identified inequities in the system.


Of the 871 participants (72% response rate), 55% had been tested by DXA and 20% were receiving treatment. Using multiple variable logistic regression to adjust for need factors, significant inequities in access to DXA testing existed by age, health beliefs, education, income, use of preventive health services, region, and provider sex. DXA testing mediated access to treatment; 34% of those having had a DXA were treated compared with 2% of those who did not. Among women with osteoporosis, correctly reporting that their DXA test indicated osteoporosis and higher perceived benefits of taking pharmacological agents for osteoporosis were associated with treatment.


Significant inequities in access to fracture prevention exist in a region with universal health care coverage. Improved access to DXA and better communication to patients of both their DXA results and the benefits of treatment has the potential to reduce the burden of osteoporosis.

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