Osteoporosis International

, Volume 23, Issue 8, pp 2135–2140 | Cite as

Differing perceptions of intervention thresholds for fracture risk: a survey of patients and doctors

  • F. Douglas
  • K. J. Petrie
  • T. Cundy
  • A. Horne
  • G. Gamble
  • A. Grey
Original Article



This survey suggests that patients are prepared to accept higher absolute fracture risk than doctors, before considering pharmacological therapy to be justified. Patients require that drug treatments confer substantial fracture risk reductions in order to consider long-term therapy.


Absolute fracture risk estimates are now incorporated into osteoporosis treatment guidelines. At present, little is known about how patients regard fracture risk and its management. We set out to describe and compare the views of patients and doctors on the level of fracture risk at which drug treatment is justified.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 114 patients referred for bone density measurement and 161 doctors whose practice includes management of osteoporosis. Participants were asked about fracture risk thresholds for pharmacological intervention.


The absolute risk of both major osteoporotic fracture and hip fracture at which drug treatment was considered by patients to be justifiable was higher than that reported by doctors [major osteoporotic fracture, median (interquartile range): patients, 50% (25 to 60); doctors, 10% (10 to 20); P < 0.0001; hip fracture: patients, 50% (25 to 60); doctors, 10% (5 to 20); P < 0.0001]. Patients required that a drug provide a median 50% reduction in relative risk of fracture in order to consider taking long-term therapy, irrespective of the treatment mode or dosing schedule. Among doctors, there was an inverse relationship between the number of osteoporosis consultations conducted each month and threshold of risk for recommending drug treatment (r = −0.22 and r = −0.29 for major osteoporotic fracture and hip fracture, respectively, P < 0.01 for both)


Patients are prepared to accept higher absolute fracture risk than doctors, before considering pharmacological therapy to be justified. Patients require that drug treatments confer substantial fracture risk reductions in order to consider long-term therapy.


Doctors Fracture Medications Patients Risk 



The authors thank Dr. Nicholas Bennett for assistance with data entry.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Douglas
    • 1
  • K. J. Petrie
    • 2
  • T. Cundy
    • 1
  • A. Horne
    • 1
  • G. Gamble
    • 1
  • A. Grey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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