Peer-Reviewed Publication

A follow-up analysis of fragility fracture risk and the osteoporosis treatment gap

Prevalence of FRAX risk factors and the osteoporosis treatment gap among women ≥ 70 years of age in routine primary care across 8 countries in Europe

Eugene McCloskey, Jeetandera Rathi, Stephane Heijmans, Mark Blagden, Bernard Cortet, Edward Czerwinski, Peyman Hadji, Juraj Payer, Kerry Palmer, Robert Stad, James O’Kelly, Socrates Papapoulos 


We studied whether elderly women at risk for fractures receive primary care treatment to prevent fracture. We found that across Europe, women at risk are often not identified, and less than half of such women receive appropriate treatment. Finally, women diagnosed with osteoporosis are much more likely to receive treatment.


To examine the relationship between risk factors for fragility fracture (FF) and osteoporosis (OP) treatment gap in elderly women across Europe, and compare the prevalence of risk factors between countries.


Demographic and clinical information was collected from women ≥ 70 years visiting primary care physicians in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the UK. Increased risk of FF was defined by the presence of 1 or more criteria (history of fracture, 10-year fracture probability, or T-score ≤  − 2.5).


There were 3798 women in total. Treatment gap (proportion at increased risk of FF not receiving treatment for OP) varied from 53.1 to 90.8% across countries, and the proportion of patients at increased risk of FF varied from 41.2 to 76.1%. Across countries, less than 50% of patients with increased risk of FF had a diagnosis of OP. Previous fracture was the most common risk factor, with similar prevalence across most countries; other risk factors varied widely. The treatment gap was reduced in patients with an OP diagnosis in all countries, but this reduction varied from 36.5 to 79.4%. The countries with the lowest rates of bone densitometry scans (Poland, France, and Germany; 8.3–12.3%) also had the highest treatment gap (82.2 to 90.8%).


This study highlights differences across Europe in clinical risk factors for fracture, rates of densitometry scanning, and the rates of OP diagnosis. More emphasis is needed on risk assessment to improve the identification and treatment of elderly women at risk for fracture.