, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 975-980
Date: 30 Apr 2004

Quality of life in ambulatory postmenopausal women: the impact of reduced bone mineral density and subclinical vertebral fractures

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Abstract

Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis has hitherto been mainly assessed in patients with clinically recognized vertebral fractures. Our study aimed to investigate the QOL perception in 361 asymptomatic ambulant postmenopausal women who came to our center for an osteoporosis screening program planned with their general practitioners. The Quality of Life Questionnaire of the European Foundation for Osteoporosis (QUALEFFO) was administered to all subjects. The participants underwent bone mineral density (BMD) measurements by DXA of either the lumbar spine and/or the femoral neck, as well as X-ray examination of the thoracolumbar spine to identify subclinical vertebral fractures. According to the WHO definition, where subjects are subdivided by BMD values into three groups (women with normal BMD, osteopenia, and osteoporosis), a significant difference was found only for the domains which explore general health perception (p<0.01 by ANOVA) and mental function (p<0.001 by ANOVA). When we segregated both osteopenic and osteoporotic women according to whether or not they had vertebral fractures, a significant difference was found only in osteoporotic patients for domains which explore physical function (p<0.001), social function (p<0.001), general health perception (p<0.02), and total QUALEFFO score (p<0.01). Stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis of the whole sample showed that both vertebral fractures and a low femoral BMD impairs QOL perception, while age did not exert a significant influence. ROC curves analysis demonstrated a low discriminating capacity of individual domains and total QUALEFFO score for both vertebral deformities and BMD categorization. Our results showed that QUALEFFO is not able to discriminate between patients with or without subclinical vertebral fractures. However, some aspects of QOL appear to be impaired in patients with subclinical vertebral fractures or reduced BMD.