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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Apr;97(4):1236-42. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-2645. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Population-based trends in osteoporosis management after new initiations of long-term systemic glucocorticoids (1998-2008).

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Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, 2F1.24 Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre, University of Alberta Hospital, 8440-112th Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2B7.



Our objective was to describe changes in glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIOP) preventive care from 1998-2008 including rates and correlates of bone mineral density (BMD) testing and osteoporosis treatment in new long-term glucocorticoid initiations.


A population-based study of adults aged 20 yr or older in Manitoba, Canada, was conducted using linked healthcare databases. Subjects with new long-term (≥90 d) systemic glucocorticoid initiations were identified within each fiscal year. High-quality GIOP preventive care was defined by the composite of BMD testing or osteoporosis treatment within 6 months of starting glucocorticoids. For each initiation, we identified sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, prednisone dose equivalents, and prescriber specialty. Multivariable Poisson regression models were used to calculate adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRR).


We studied 17,736 new long-term glucocorticoid initiations; one third were at least 10 mg prednisone daily, and most (64%) were prescribed by general practitioners. Overall, 6-month rates of BMD testing were 6%, osteoporosis treatment 22%, and the composite of testing or treatment 25%. From 1998-2008, there were modest increases in BMD testing (from 4 to 6%), osteoporosis treatment (from 15 to 24%), and testing or treatment [from 17 to 27%; aIRR = 1.51; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.40-1.63]. High-quality GIOP preventive care varied significantly by age (16% for those <50 yr vs. 27% for those ≥70 yr; aIRR = 0.57; 95% CI = 0.52-0.63), sex (13% for men vs. 34% for women; aIRR = 0.40; 95% CI = 0.37-0.43), and prescriber (23% general practice vs. 44% rheumatology; aIRR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.52-0.60).


Quality of GIOP preventive care has improved but remains suboptimal with only one quarter of those starting long-term glucocorticoids receiving BMD testing or osteoporosis treatment. Interventions to improve GIOP prevention, especially targeting younger patients, men, and nonspecialists, are needed.

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