A recent study has brought to light an alarming discrepancy when it comes to the communication of fracture risk between healthcare professionals and patients with osteoporosis. Despite the fact that most patients express a desire to receive information about their fracture risk, only half actually receive it. This finding underscores the need for improved communication strategies and sheds light on patients’ preferred methods of receiving information.
The Risk Communication in Osteoporosis Risk (RICO) study, published in Osteoporosis International, involved 332 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis from 11 different sites around the world. The study revealed that poor communication between healthcare professionals and patients is a major contributing factor to low initiation and adherence to osteoporosis medications. Patients often report dissatisfaction with the information they receive from their doctors, leading to a lack of understanding about osteoporosis, the risks and consequences of fractures, and how to manage the disease effectively.
Senior co-author Professor Mickaël Hiligsmann of Maastricht University believes that this study will help bridge the communication gap, allowing for greater patient involvement in clinical decision-making. The findings indicate that an online visual decision aid that takes into account patients’ preferences for fracture risk communication would be beneficial. Specifically, a visual presentation using graphs with a colored traffic-light system was found to be the most preferred and persuasive method for communicating fracture risk. This type of presentation not only helps patients understand their risk but also encourages them to initiate treatment.
Key findings from the study include:
– 86% of participants considered information about fracture risk to be highly important, but only 56% had actually received this information.
– Participants globally preferred a visual presentation of their fracture risk using a traffic-light type of color graph.
– Preferences for fracture risk presentation varied across countries, suggesting the need for country-specific visual aids.
– Participants emphasized the importance of receiving verbal explanations and printed information about their fracture risk.
– Comparing fracture risk with and without medical treatment was found to be very helpful for participants.
– Most participants expressed a desire to be informed about the severe consequences of fractures, such as the risk of loss of independence and quality of life.
The Risk Communication in Osteoporosis (RICO) project has been endorsed by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Epidemiology and Quality of Life (EpiQol) Working Group. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve fracture risk communication, enhance osteoporosis treatment and management, reduce fractures, and improve the overall quality of life for patients.
Professor Nicholas Harvey, Chair of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors, highlights the importance of these findings in ensuring that patients are well-informed about their high risk of osteoporosis-related fractures and the serious consequences that can result. It is hoped that these findings will lead to more effective doctor-patient communication, increased utilization of osteoporosis medications, and improved outcomes for vulnerable patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is there a communication gap between healthcare professionals and patients in the discussion of osteoporosis fracture risk?
A: Poor communication is a major reason behind the lack of initiation and adherence to osteoporosis medications. Patients often express dissatisfaction with the information they receive from their doctors, leading to a poor understanding of osteoporosis and its consequences.
Q: What are the preferred methods of communication for fracture risk?
A: The study found that patients prefer visual presentations of fracture risk using graphs with a colored traffic-light system. This method is not only preferred but also the most persuasive in encouraging patients to initiate treatment.
Q: Are there country-specific preferences for fracture risk presentation?
A: Yes, the study revealed that preferences for fracture risk presentation varied across countries. This suggests that country-specific visual aids would be more relevant in effectively communicating fracture risk to patients.
Q: What information do patients want to receive about fracture risk?
A: In addition to understanding their fracture risk, patients expressed a desire to receive verbal explanations, printed information, and to be informed about the severe consequences of fractures, such as loss of independence and quality of life.