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Undertreatment of osteoporosis in Western Australia

Posted on: July 2, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


Michelle Lai and colleagues of the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia report that undertreatment of osteoporosis is common in patients living in rural communities in comparison with metropolitan dwellers.

Upon examining geographical differences in osteoporosis management in rural compared to metropolitan areas, researchers found that patients living in rural communities were less likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis, and also less likely to comply with osteoporosis treatments, including supplementing with vitamin D, calcium, and biophosphonates.

The study included patients who were admitted to Royal Perth hospital for a minimal trauma hip fracture from July 2005 to December 2009. The authors found that residing in rural regions was an independent predictor of lower use of vitamin D, calcium, and biophosphonates before fracture.

After leaving the hospital, patients were interviewed at 6 and 12 months to determine compliance of osteoporosis treatment. About two-thirds all rural patients continued vitamin D and calcium supplementation over the year period, but this was 11-15% less than patients in metropolitan areas. The author’s found that in hospitals where education of treatment is offered, compliance rates significantly increase.

“Primary and secondary prevention for fragility fracture is far from adequate in the rural and remote regions compared with the capital city…”

About half of all women over the age of 50 will fracture their hip, wrist, or vertebrae due to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to make new bone tissue, when the body reabsorbs too much old bone tissue, or both.This re-absorption of calcium and phosphates back into the body causes bone to become progressively weaker, increasing the risk of fracture even without injury.

Most people with the disease are not aware of its progression. Usually by the time a fracture appears, the disease is advanced and damage is severe.


Mai MMY, Ang WM, McGuinnes M, Larke AB. Undertreatment of osteoporosis in regional Western Australia. Australian Journal on Aging. June 2012.

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