According to new research from UC Davis Health System and published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, osteoporosis screening is too common among low-risk women, but not common enough among high-risk women.

Screening rates for osteoporosis rose sharply among women at age 50, even though, per a news release from UC Davis Health System, it is suggested that screening should not start until age 65, unless risk factors are present.

As part of a UC Davis research fellowship, Anna Lee Amarnath, MD, MPH, assessed the electronic health records of nearly 51,000 women between the ages of 40 and 85 years old who received healthcare in the Sacramento region, according to the release. Her evaluation included osteoporosis risk factors and whether or not the women received a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which measures the mineral density within the bones.

During a 7-year period, her study found that more than 42% of eligible women between the ages of 65 and 74 years old were not screened, nor were nearly 57% of those older than 75, despite the favorable cost-effectiveness of screening in these age groups, the release explains. In turn, nearly 46% of low-risk women between the ages of 50 and 59 years old were screened, as were 59% of those aged 60 to 64 years old without risk factors.

“DXA screening was underused in women at increased fracture risk, including women aged 65 years and older. Meanwhile, it was common among women at low fracture risk, such as younger women without osteoporosis risk factors,” Amarnath says in the release.

Amarnath and her team note in the release that they believe they may have identified a common problem, in that physicians tend to think about age-related bone loss and DXA at around age 50, when women enter menopause, without also considering overall fracture risk.

The study’s senior author, Joshua J. Fenton, MD, MPH, an associate professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis, says technology-based solutions could help address this problem.

“Health systems should invest in developing electronic health record systems that prompt providers at the point-of-care when screening is needed and when it can be postponed,” he says in the release.

[Source(s): UC Davis Health System, Medical News Today]