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23-08-2011 | Bone health | Article

Osteoporosis education improves disease knowledge and dietary calcium intake


Free abstract

MedWire News: Results from a trial published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases found that a 3-month osteoporosis education course improved both osteoporosis knowledge and dietary calcium intake.

Osteoporosis is often underdiagnosed and underreported, and pharmaceutical treatments are effective but have been found to cause long-term complications. Educational programs about osteoporosis may help patients to understand the causes of the disease and prompt them to make lifestyle changes (eg diet) that could lessen the need for long-term use of pharmaceuticals, explain Laura Laslett (University of Adelaide Discipline of Medicine, Australia) and colleagues.

Previous studies have found that informational leaflets alone do not change patient behavior, but educational programs that promote self-efficacy do, they add.

In the present study, Laslett (University of Adelaide Discipline of Medicine, Australia) and team studied whether four weekly sessions of the Osteoporosis Prevention and Self-Management Course (OPSMC) - the predominant Australian osteoporosis education program - or one introductory session alone was more effective in changing osteoporosis knowledge and participant behaviors. The investigators enrolled 146 adults aged 50 years and older who had presented to the hospital with a fracture unrelated to trauma.

Seventy-five participants took the full 4-week OPSMC course and 71 attended the introductory session. Enrollees in the OPSMC are given basic summaries of what osteoporosis is and learn about risk factors, self-management principles, and goal settings; less information is given in the introductory session. At baseline and follow-up 3 months later, participants took self-tests on osteoporosis knowledge, calcium intake, and exercise and physical activity.

Laslett and colleagues found that after 3 months, both groups had increased calcium intake and osteoporosis knowledge, but only those in the OPSMC group had greater use of osteoporosis medications. There were no differences between groups in physical activity or exercise over time.

The investigators believe that their study is the first to find improvement in real-life, healthy behaviors, such as calcium consumption.

They conclude that "changing these behaviors as well as sustaining compliance with osteoporosis medicines should modulate risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures," but as yet no studies have investigated these outcomes. Both short and long courses are effective, though the investigators feel that "longer osteoporosis education courses are of larger benefit to patients at risk of a subsequent osteoporotic fracture."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Stephanie Leveene

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