Screening approach to fracture prevention in older women is effective, study says

15 Dec 2017

The number of hip fractures suffered by older women could be reduced by a quarter through a simple screening programme using a fracture risk tool known as FRAX, a new report says.

The study, published today in The Lancet and welcomed by the National Osteoporosis Society, shows that older women identified at high risk of hip fracture based on the FRAX fracture risk tool benefited from subsequent appropriate osteoporosis management.

FRAX is a diagnostic tool developed by researchers and clinicians at the University of Sheffield which is used to evaluate the 10-year probability of bone fracture risk.

The randomised controlled trial Screening for Osteoporosis in Older women for the Prevention of fracture’ (SCOOP) compared screening with the FRAX tool to routine care. 

It involved 12,483 eligible women aged 70-85 years, identified from primary care. In the half of the women randomised to screening, treatment was subsequently recommended in approximately 1 in 7 women deemed at high risk of hip fracture . This recommendation was acted upon by the women and their GPs so that over three quarters of the women at high risk were on osteoporosis medications within 6 months of screening. 

Professor Neil Gittoes, Honorary Professor of at the University of Birmingham and Trustee of the National Osteoporosis Society said the results of the SCOOP study were “potentially game changing in the field of osteoporosis.”

"SCOOP shows for the first time that a screening approach to fracture prevention in older women is effective by using convenient and safe forms of screening and targeting established therapies and interventions to those most in need.

The study also demonstrates that the screening process does not cause anxiety for people and early additional studies strongly suggest that the screening programme is cost-effective to deliver. Preventing hip fractures is absolutely key to older people maintaining good health, mobility and independence and thus the SCOOP study has the potential to change health policy by screening older women at risk of hip fractures later in life."

Fizz Thompson, Clinical Director of the National Osteoporosis Society said the new study marked an important step forward in terms of helping people at high risk of fracture with the assessment and treatment they need.

“We welcome this important study and will be working closely with the osteoporosis community to encourage more research into this area and look at how the findings could be used to improve the identification of people at high risk of fracture.”

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