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Older women more vulnerable, less likely to be screened after broken hip

July 19, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Women who need post-fracture services the most are least likely to receive them.
Experts recommend older women with hip fractures get bone density testing to determine if osteoporosis contributed to the break and, if appropriate, begin taking osteoporsis medications.
Only 17 percent of women age 50 and older received at least one of the recommended osteoporosis-related health services within six months of their hip fracture, according to an analysis from the AARP Public Policy Institute. Even more discouraging news: failure to adhere to these recomendations can increase chances of a second hip fracture, particularly among women ages 80 and older.
"Our study suggests that surprisingly few women are evaluated or treated for osteoporsis following hip fractures," says Lina Walker, PhD, PPI Vice President of Health Security, in a press release. "Addressing these missed opportunities would make a big difference in the survival rate and the quality of life for older women who break a hip."
Hip fractures in older women carry serious health implicatons. Ten to 20 percent of older women will die in the year following a hip fracture. Only 40 percent will return to their level of independence prior to fracture. And yet about half of all postmenopausal women will have an osteoporsis-related bone fracture in their lifetime. 
Researchers used data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse to quanitify the potential impact of missed opportunities to diagnose and treat osteoperosis by following women for an average of 2.6 years to observe changes in risk for recurrent hip fracture within six months of their first fracture. They found women age 80 and older who did not have bone density testing or begin taking osteoporosis drugs within six months were 62 percent more likely to to suffer a second hip fracture compared to their treatment-seeking peers.
"The results of our analysis suggest that women ages 80 and older are the least likely to utilize recommended health services following a hip fracture, yet the consequences of under-treatment in this age group are even more pronounced than for younger women. Thus, much work remains to increase appropriate utilization of these recommended services," according to the analysis.
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