Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1459-1471

First online:

At what hip fracture risk is it cost-effective to treat?

International intervention thresholds for the treatment of osteoporosis
  • F. BorgströmAffiliated withMedical Management Centre, Karolinska InstitutetStockholm Health Economics Email author 
  • , O. JohnellAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedics, Malmö General Hospital
  • , J. A. KanisAffiliated withCentre for Metabolic Bone Diseases (WHO Collaborating Centre), University of Sheffield Medical School
  • , B. JönssonAffiliated withStockholm School of Economics
  • , C. RehnbergAffiliated withMedical Management Centre, Karolinska Institutet

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Intervention thresholds (ITs), the 10-year hip fracture risk at which treatment can be considered to be cost-effective, have previously been estimated for Sweden and the UK.


The aim of this study was to provide a Markov cohort model platform for a multinational estimation of thresholds at which intervention becomes cost-effective and to investigate and determine the main factors behind differences in these thresholds between countries.

Results and discussion

Intervention thresholds were estimated for Australia, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Spain, the UK and USA using a societal perspective. The model was populated with as much relevant country-specific data as possible. Intervention was assumed to be given for 5 years and to decrease the risk of all osteoporotic fractures by 35%. The societal willingness to pay (WTP) for a quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained was set to the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita multiplied by two. In the base case analysis, the 10-year hip fracture probability at which intervention became cost-effective varied across ages and countries. For women starting therapy at an age of 70 years, the IT varied from a hip fracture probability of 5.6% in Japan to 14.7% in Spain. The main factors explaining differences in the IT between countries were the WTP for a QALY gained, fracture-related costs and intervention costs.


The ITs presented in this paper are appropriate for use in treatment guidelines that consider health economic aspects, and they can be used in combination with fracture risk prediction algorithms to improve the selection of patients who are suitable for osteoporotic intervention.


Cost-effectiveness Hip fracture Intervention threshold Osteoporosis