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17-10-2010 | Bone health | Article

Group education increases osteoporosis treatment adherence


Free abstract

MedWire News: A multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals teaching patients in small groups can help to increase patients' knowledge about osteoporosis and their long-term adherence to treatment, Danish research shows.

Attending four classes (8-12 participants) over four weeks resulted in significantly higher self-reported adherence to pharmacological therapy at 2 years after treatment initiation, compared with a control group that did not attend the classes, report Dorthe Nielsen (Odense University Hospital) and colleagues.

In their study of 300 patients (89% women, median age 64 years) recently diagnosed with osteoporosis, Nielsen and team assessed the impact of an educational program conducted by physicians, dieticians, physiotherapists, and nurses on patients' knowledge about osteoporosis and their level of adherence to pharmacological treatment.

The patients were randomly assigned to the osteoporosis education program, which was adjusted according to the individual patient's background and needs, or to the control group. Their knowledge about osteoporosis and adherence to treatment was assessed with self-completed questionnaires at baseline (before the intervention) and after 3, 12, and 24 months.

The researchers report that at baseline, there were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to knowledge score or level of adherence.

At 3 months, the change in knowledge score (assessed on a scale of 0-28) from baseline was significantly greater in the education group (+3 points) compared with the control group (no change).

Although the level of knowledge was slightly lower in the school group after 2 years, it was still 2 points higher than baseline. In contrast the score remained unchanged from baseline in the control group.

Self-reported adherence to pharmacological therapy was also significantly higher in the school group, at 92%, compared with 80% in the control group at 2 years.

Of note, neither baseline knowledge score nor change in knowledge score was associated with better treatment adherence.

"This shows that learning is not a simple transfer of knowledge," remark Nielsen and co-authors in the journal Patient Education and Counseling.

"There are many factors involved in learning about and handling a chronic illness such as osteoporosis in everyday life. Further investigation into patients' individual experiences with and gains from education program is needed," they add.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Laura Dean

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