Ambiguity hindering self-management and prevention of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women



As osteoporosis relies largely on self-managed prevention and adherence to long-term treatment regimens, it is imperative that those at risk understand the disease that they are attempting to prevent. Ambiguity regarding osteoporosis and reluctance to take anti-osteoporosis medication (AOM) as well as calcium was noted in Australian post-menopausal women. This may lead to underestimating women’s own risk of osteoporosis and fracture.


Fragility fractures caused by osteoporosis have been known to inflict significant personal and financial burden on individuals and society. As treatment of osteoporosis relies largely on self-managed prevention and adherence to long-term AOM regimens, it is imperative that women have a sound understanding of the disease that they are attempting to prevent. Much can also be gained from qualitatively exploring the level of osteoporosis knowledge particularly in post-menopausal women who are at greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures. This study thus aims to determine what post-menopausal Australian women know about osteoporosis and osteoporosis prevention.


Six focus group sessions, using purposive sampling, were conducted with 23 female participants (mean age 68 years (range 62–83)). Women responded to a series of open-ended questions regarding their knowledge about osteoporosis. The audiotaped focus groups were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic analysis framework.


Three key themes were identified: ambiguity about the nature of osteoporosis, ambiguity about osteoporosis prevention and reluctance to take AOM and calcium.


Ambiguity associated with risk and prevention may provide women with a false sense of security that they are adequately acting to prevent the disease. Underestimation of their risk of osteoporosis and fracture as well as reluctance associated with AOM may be barriers to osteoporotic fracture prevention.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. L. Barcenilla-Wong.

Ethics declarations

The GLOW study was funded by The Alliance for Better Bone Health (Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi-Aventis). Annica Barcenilla-Wong received funding for preparation of this manuscript from the Institute of Bone and Joint Research Rheumatology Research fund but they had no role in the development of this manuscript. Ethical approval was obtained from the local Human Research Ethics Committee, and informed consent was obtained from all participants of the study.

Conflicts of interest

Marita Cross, Margaret Fry and Lyn March declare no conflicts of interest. Annica Barcenilla-Wong was in receipt of support for preparation of this manuscript from the Institute of Bone and Joint Research Rheumatology Research fund.

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Barcenilla-Wong, A.L., Cross, M., Fry, M. et al. Ambiguity hindering self-management and prevention of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Arch Osteoporos 15, 73 (2020).

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  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Self-managed prevention