Osteoporosis‐associated fractures are a major public health problem in the United States. Although clinicians and policy groups have advocated estrogen replacement therapy and other clinical measures to prevent osteoporosis, few studies have assessed whether these measures are being adopted by physicians in practice. The purpose of this study is to evaluate physicians' use of osteoporosis prevention measures and to assess the impact of physician specialty and practice setting on osteoporosis prevention performance. A survey of nearly 300 physicians was carried out in a large metropolitan area. Gynecologists, general internists, and cardiopulmonary specialists were included from one of three practice settings: fee‐for‐service private practice, full‐time academic medicine, or a large health maintenance organization. Most physicians, regardless of clinical specialty or practice setting, report that they advocate exercise and calcium supplementation. Few physicians prescribe estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for the majority of their postmenopausal patients. Although there are minimal differences among the three types of practice settings examined, ERT varies markedly by clinical specialty. Of the gynecologists surveyed, 37% report prescribing ERT for the majority of their postmenopausal patients to prevent osteoporosis compared to only 7 and 5% of general internists and cardiopulmonary specialists, respectively (χ2 = 45.3, p < 0.0001). Although the efficacy of exercise and calcium supplementation to prevent osteoporotic fractures has not been well established, these measures are commonly advocated by both generalists and subspecialists. Although gynecologists are significantly more likely to prescribe ERT to prevent osteoporosis than the other clinical specialists, in general very few physicians prescribe ERT for most postmenopausal patients. This is despite the documented benefit of ERT in preventing osteoporotic fractures. Reasons are explored for physician reluctance to prescribe ERT.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine