, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 584-590

Direct Disclosure of Bone Density Results to Patients: Effect on Knowledge of Osteoporosis Risk and Anxiety Level

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If bone mineral density (BMD) screening is to achieve the aim of preventing the complications of osteoporosis, women with low BMD measurements must learn that they are at risk, and women at risk must know about and be willing to adopt and persist with measures that can prevent osteoporosis. In this paper we present the results of a randomized controlled trial designed to examine whether disclosing the results of a BMD scan directly to women, as well as through their general practitioners (GPs), improves their knowledge of their bone density results without adverse psychological sequelae. Direct disclosure resulted in 19% (59% vs 40%; 95% CI for difference in proportions: 9.8% to 27.8%) more women being aware of their BMD status at the spine and 22% (58% vs 36%; 95% CI for difference: 12.2% to 29.8%) at the hip. These differences were observed irrespective of risk status. There was no significant difference in anxiety levels between the randomized groups. We conclude, therefore, that direct disclosure of BMD results to women, as well as to their GPs, leads to increased knowledge of BMD status without increasing anxiety, and that BMD measurement services should consider informing women routinely of their results directly as well as through their GPs.

Received: 22 May 1997 / Revised: 4 March 1998