, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 427-432

Direct clinical and welfare costs of osteoporotic fractures in elderly men and women

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Abstract

Osteoporosis is an increasing health care problem in all aging populations, but overall direct costs associated with the total fracture burden of osteoporosis remain uncertain. We have examined direct costs associated with 151 osteoporotic fractures occurring between 1989 and 1992 in a large cohort of elderly men and women followed prospectively as part of the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study. The median cost of hospital treated fractures was $A10 511 per fracture and for fractures treated on an outpatient basis $A455 in 1992 Australian dollars. Femoral neck fractures were the most expensive fractures ($15984 median cost). There was no significant difference in costs between men and women for either hospital- or outpatient-treated fractures. Rehabilitation hospital costs comprised the largest proportion of costs (49%) for hospital-treated fractures. Community services comprised the major cost (40%) of outpatient-treated fractures. Univariate predictors of costs were quadriceps strength and bone density, although multivariate analysis showed quadriceps strength to be the best overall predictor of costs. The predicted annual treatment costs in Australia for atraumatic fractures occurring in subjects ⩾60 years was $A779 million or approximately $A44 million per million of population per annum. Estimated total osteoporotic fracture-related costs for the Australian population were much higher than previously reported. The majority of direct costs (95%) were incurred by hospitalized patients and related to hospital and rehabilitation costs. Extrapolation of these data suggests that the direct costs for hip fracture alone will increase approximately twofold in most Western countries by 2025. Improving the cost-effectiveness of treating osteoporotic fractures should involve reduced hospitalization and/or greater efficiency in community rehabilitation services. The costs of various approaches to osteoporosis prevention must be placed into the context of these direct costs and prevention should target men as well as women.