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Value Health. 2012 Mar-Apr;15(2):284-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2011.11.030. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Cost-effectiveness of different strategies for selecting and treating individuals at increased risk of osteoporosis or osteopenia: a systematic review.

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Department of Health Economics and Health Care Management, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.



To compare cost-effectiveness modeling analyses of strategies to prevent osteoporotic and osteopenic fractures either based on fixed thresholds using bone mineral density or based on variable thresholds including bone mineral density and clinical risk factors.


A systematic review was performed by using the MEDLINE database and reference lists from previous reviews. On the basis of predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria, we identified relevant studies published since January 2006. Articles included for the review were assessed for their methodological quality and results.


The literature search resulted in 24 analyses, 14 of them using a fixed-threshold approach and 10 using a variable-threshold approach. On average, 70% of the criteria for methodological quality were fulfilled, but almost half of the analyses did not include medication adherence in the base case. The results of variable-threshold strategies were more homogeneous and showed more favorable incremental cost-effectiveness ratios compared with those based on a fixed threshold with bone mineral density. For analyses with fixed thresholds, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios varied from €80,000 per quality-adjusted life-year in women aged 55 years to cost saving in women aged 80 years. For analyses with variable thresholds, the range was €47,000 to cost savings.


Risk assessment using variable thresholds appears to be more cost-effective than selecting high-risk individuals by fixed thresholds. Although the overall quality of the studies was fairly good, future economic analyses should further improve their methods, particularly in terms of including more fracture types, incorporating medication adherence, and including or discussing unrelated costs during added life-years.

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