The gaps between patient and physician understanding of the emotional and physical impact of osteoporosis

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A multinational survey was conducted to evaluate the gaps between patients and physicians understanding of osteoporosis. The International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the creation of community-wide patient support programmes to increase prevention and treatment awareness of osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis is often undiagnosed and untreated, leaving millions of people at risk of debilitating fractures. A survey was designed to investigate any gaps that may exist between physician and patient knowledge of osteoporosis, understand barriers to patient adherence and identify ways to address unmet needs and improve communications.


Telephone interviews were conducted with patients (n = 844) and physicians (n = 837) in 13 countries in June/July 2009. Patients were women with postmenopausal osteoporosis currently taking (or in the past 2 years) prescribed medication. Physicians had experience in treating osteoporotic patients, which included only general practitioners who saw ≥10 (exception: in Hungary ≥5) and specialists who saw ≥20 patients with osteoporosis per month.


Physicians consistently underestimated their patients’ adherence to treatment and beliefs on the impact of osteoporosis on their quality-of-life. Physicians underestimated how many patients worry about breaking a bone (51% vs 79%), as well as patient concerns about declines in activity levels (40% vs 70%), becoming dependent on others (30% vs 60%) and not being able to work for longer (30% vs 57%). Patients believed the most credible osteoporosis information was from specialists (94%). Patients (75%) would like easy to understand materials and 49% would welcome inter-patient discussions of their condition. Most physicians (88%) believed that osteoporosis organisations are among the most credible sources for information, 80% would give patients written materials to increase adherence and 76% would recommend patient programmes that encourage better communication on managing osteoporosis.


Community-wide patient support programmes may help patients to manage their concerns and address unmet needs in osteoporosis management.

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The survey was funded by an educational grant from Amgen (Europe) GmbH and conducted by GfK in conjunction with Hill & Knowlton (UK), on behalf of the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Conflicts of interest

R. Rizzoli - speaker’s bureau/advisory activities with MSD, Servier, Novartis, Nycomed, Danone, Nestlé, Lilly and Amgen but not in conflict with this manuscript. M. L. Brandi—consultant for Amgen, Servier, MSD, Warner Chilcott, Eli Lilly, Nycomed and NPS. K. Dreinhöfer—consultant/advisory activities/grant/research support of/from Alliance, Amgen, Lilly, MSD, Novartis and Servier. T. Thomas has a grant/research support from: Amgen Inc., Lilly, Novartis and Servier and a consultant/speaker’s bureau/advisory activities with Amgen Inc, Lilly, MSD and Novartis but does not conflict with this manuscript. D.A. Wahl declare no competing interests. C. Cooper—consultant/speaker’s bureau/advisory activities with: MSD, Servier, Novartis, Wyeth, Alliance, Lilly and Amgen but not in conflict with this manuscript.

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Correspondence to René Rizzoli.

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Rizzoli, R., Brandi, M.L., Dreinhöfer, K. et al. The gaps between patient and physician understanding of the emotional and physical impact of osteoporosis. Arch Osteoporos 5, 145–153 (2010).

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  • Osteoporosis
  • Survey
  • Patients and physicians
  • Support programmes
  • Disease management