, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp 672-676
Date: 22 Jul 2003

Information needs in the management of osteoporosis in family practice: an illustration of the failure of the current guideline implementation process

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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to determine information needs of family physicians around issues in the management of osteoporosis and preferences for dissemination of this information. A mailed survey was sent to a stratified random sample of 1000 family physicians in Ontario in May 2001. Female physicians and those practicing in rural communities were over-sampled from the College of Family Physicians' database. Among the 505 respondents, 364 were still practicing (182 males and 182 females) and completed the full questionnaire. There were no statistically significant differences in responses by sex or region of practice. Over 80% of family physicians wanted to be more informed about bone density testing and the pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of osteoporosis. The presence of risk factors was one of the most influential factors (72%) for ordering bone density testing. Information in peer-reviewed journals was thought to be the most credible, with 80% rating the CMAJ as very credible compared to 47% for the Osteoporosis Society of Canada (OSC). Sixty-two percent found the OSC guidelines (1996) to be useful even though much of that information is now out of date. Almost 70% had not read the more recently published treatment guidelines from the Ontario Program for Optimal Therapeutics (2000). Over 80% were interested in a decision aid, which incorporates information on risk factors, fracture risk and a treatment algorithm. The perceived need and the lack of availability of clinically useful information on osteoporosis for the family practice setting highlights the failure of the current guideline implementation process and provides insight into where the process has to be improved.