New Study Finds Communication Gap in Osteoporosis Fracture Risk

New Study Finds Communication Gap in Osteoporosis Fracture Risk

A recent study has revealed an alarming communication gap between healthcare professionals and patients when it comes to discussing fracture risk associated with osteoporosis. The study, conducted among 332 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, found that although the majority of patients expressed a desire to receive information about their fracture risk, only half of them actually received it.

Published in Osteoporosis International, the Risk Communication in Osteoporosis Risk (RICO) study was conducted in 11 sites worldwide, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the USA. The researchers collected data through structured interviews based on a systematic review and qualitative pilot study.

Poor communication between healthcare professionals and patients has been identified as one of the main reasons for the low initiation and adherence to osteoporosis medications. Many patients report dissatisfaction with the information they receive from their doctors, leading to a poor understanding of osteoporosis, fracture risks, and strategies for managing the disease.

To address this communication gap, the study suggests the use of an online visual decision aid that takes into account patients’ preferences for fracture risk communication. Participants expressed a preference for a visual presentation using graphs with a colored traffic-light system, which they found to be the most persuasive way to communicate fracture risk and convince patients to initiate treatment.

Key findings from the study include:
– 86% of participants considered information about fracture risk to be of high importance, but only 56% had received such information.
– Participants preferred visual presentations of their fracture risk probability using a traffic-light type of color graph, rather than verbal or written explanations.
– Preferences for fracture risk presentation varied across countries, indicating the need for country-specific visual aids.
– Participants highlighted the importance of receiving a verbal explanation of their fracture risk, printed information, and the option to access information through a website.
– Participants were particularly concerned about the potential consequences of fractures, such as loss of independence, the inability to walk, and reduced quality of life.

The Risk Communication in Osteoporosis (RICO) project, supported by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Epidemiology and Quality of Life (EpiQol) Working Group, aims to improve fracture risk communication to enhance treatment and management of osteoporosis, reduce fractures, and improve quality of life for patients.

This study’s findings shed light on the urgent need for improved doctor-patient communication in the context of osteoporosis and fracture risk. By addressing this communication gap and providing patients with the information they need, healthcare professionals can empower patients to take an active role in clinical decision-making and ultimately improve treatment outcomes.


1. What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones, making them more prone to fractures.

2. Why is communication of fracture risk important?

Effective communication of fracture risk helps patients understand the seriousness of their condition and the potential consequences of fractures. It also allows them to make informed decisions about treatment options and lifestyle adjustments.

3. How were the study participants selected?

The study included 332 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis from 11 different sites around the world.

4. What was the preferred method of fracture risk communication?

Participants in the study preferred visual presentations of fracture risk using graphs with a colored traffic-light system.

5. How can healthcare professionals improve communication with patients?

Healthcare professionals can enhance communication by using visual aids, providing verbal explanations, offering printed information, and utilizing online resources to meet patients’ information needs.

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