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Health Educ J. 2010 Sep;69(3):267-276.

Health Beliefs about Osteoporosis and Osteoporosis Screening in Older Women and Men.

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School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Decision Sciences and Clinical Systems Modeling, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.



To examine older adults' beliefs about osteoporosis and osteoporosis screening to identify barriers to screening.


Cross-sectional mailed survey.


Western Pennsylvania.


Surveys were mailed to 1830 women and men aged 60 years and older. The survey assessed sociodemographic characteristics, osteoporosis and general health-related characteristics, and beliefs about osteoporosis severity, susceptibility, screening self-efficacy, and screening response efficacy. Analyses included Wilcoxon rank-sum tests to compare belief dimension scores, and multivariable ordinal logistic regression analyses to evaluate association between osteoporosis beliefs and potential explanatory variables.


Surveys were completed by 1268 individuals (69.3 per cent). Mean age of respondents was 73.3 years, and most were female (58.7 per cent). Individuals demonstrated greatest belief in the severity of osteoporosis and least belief in personal susceptibility (P <.001). Older individuals believed less strongly than younger individuals in osteoporosis severity (OR, 0.95 per 1-year increase in age; 95 per cent CI, 0.92-0.97) and response efficacy (OR, 0.97 per 1-year increase in age; 95 per cent CI, 0.95-0.99). Women believed more strongly than men in osteoporosis susceptibility (OR, 1.87; 95 per cent CI, 1.38-2.53) and screening self-efficacy (OR, 2.87; 95 per cent CI, 1.17-7.07). Individuals with high self-rated health status had greater belief than those with low self-rated health status in screening self-efficacy (OR, 3.59; 95 per cent CI, 1.89-6.83).


Older adults demonstrate several beliefs that may be barriers to osteoporosis screening, including low belief in susceptibility to osteoporosis. These beliefs should be targeted with patient education to improve screening rates.

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