Racial disparity in treatment of osteoporosis after diagnosis
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- Hamrick, I., Whetstone, L.M. & Cummings, D.M. Osteoporos Int (2006) 17: 1653. doi:10.1007/s00198-006-0178-y
Racial disparities have been identified in a number of areas in clinical medicine. Patients diagnosed with osteoporosis should be treated similarly regardless of race. However, limited data are available on the relative frequency of treatment by race after diagnosis of osteoporosis.
We analyzed all 739 dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) results obtained of women 50 years old and older between 1998 and 2002 at our medical center. Our study sample was 82% Caucasian and 15% African American. Of 353 women who had low bone mineral density on first DXA, we abstracted the electronic and paper medical records to compare treatment rates by race.
Of the women diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, 80.0% and 68.3%, respectively, were started on antiresorptive medications. Of the African American women, 61.9% diagnosed with osteoporosis were started on antiresorptive treatment compared with 83.3% of Caucasian women (p<0.05). African American women with low bone mass were less likely than Caucasian women to be smokers (p<0.05) and use alcohol (p<0.01) but were more likely to be on corticosteroids (p<0.05). No other significant differences were found among treated and nontreated groups that might explain the disparity in treatment.
A smaller proportion of African American than Caucasian women with osteoporosis received antiresorptive medications after a DXA diagnosis. This significant disparity requires further study in a larger population.