The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF) in the USA have developed a simple visual aid to help primary care providers initiate dialogue with their patients about osteoporosis and fracture risk during a medical consultation.
The tool, available in PDF form and in several languages, lists essential questions for osteoporosis and fracture risk assessment and illustrates a screening and management algorithm based on either UK or US guidance. Key messages are provided to assist clinicians in explaining the benefits of treatment versus the risk of rare side effects from the treatment. It is supported by visual aids to help patients view and better understand this risk versus benefit discussion.
Professor Nicholas Harvey, Chair of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors, stated: "People are usually unaware that they have osteoporosis until they experience a fracture, and yet many primary care providers fail to discuss or evaluate the bone health of their patients aged over 50 years. Through this new tool, we hope to encourage primary care providers to address bone health in their patients and to engage in constructive dialogue that will improve their patients' understanding of fracture risk and the benefits of adherence to anti-osteoporosis treatment."
Osteoporosis-related fractures have a serious impact on health and independence as well as survival. People with osteoporosis often underestimate the serious consequences of a fracture and the need for anti-osteoporosis treatment to reduce the risk of fractures. In contrast, the very rare occurrence of serious side effects linked to osteoporosis medications is frequently over-estimated by patients. As a result, the initiation and adherence to anti-osteoporosis medication is very low in the US- and worldwide.
Andrea Singer, MD, BHOF chief medical officer, added: "By listening to their patients' concerns and through clear communication and dialogue about osteoporosis and fracture risk, physicians can encourage patient involvement in treatment decisions, thereby improving patient understanding and adherence to medication. We hope that the new BHOF Osteoporosis and Fracture Evaluation Tool will be widely used to help initiate patient-doctor dialogue about fracture risk and the benefits of anti-osteoporosis treatment, prescribed as part of a management plan that includes nutrition and exercise recommendations."
The IOF-BHOF Tool for primary care providers is available on the IOF website (UK version in Spanish, French, German, and Japanese) and on the BHOF website for the U.S.