Journal scan

Hip fractures among older women reduced by community screening

More than a quarter of hip fractures in older women could be prevented by community screening for osteoporosis to help identify those at risk, researchers say

A bone density scan. Picture: Science Photo Library

More than a quarter of hip fractures in older women could be prevented by community screening for osteoporosis, a study shows.

A simple questionnaire, combined with bone mineral density measurements for some women, would help identify those at risk of hip fracture, researchers say.

The research, led by the University of East Anglia and including five other universities, involved 12,483 women aged 70 to 85 from 100 GP practices in seven regions.

Half the women were screened to compare with routine care.

One in seven of those screened were deemed to be at high risk of hip fracture and given treatment.


While screening did not reduce the incidence of all osteoporosis-related fractures, there was a 28% reduction in hip fractures among the women over five years.

The study suggests that one hip fracture could be prevented for every 111 women screened, and early analysis suggests the approach would be likely to be cost-effective.

In the screening group there were 54 fewer women who suffered one or more hip fractures compared with the routine care group.

Lead researcher Lee Shepstone said: ‘Given that the number of costly and debilitating hip fractures are expected to increase with an ageing population, the results of this study potentially have important public health implications.’

In the UK around 536,000 people suffer fragility fractures each year, including 79,000 hip fractures.

There is a 20% mortality rate one year after a fracture.

Shepstone L et al (2017) Screening in the community to reduce fractures in older women: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32640-5


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