Affiliations: School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Corresponding author: Caitriona Cunningham, B. Physio, MSc (Lond) PhD, MISCP, MMACP, School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland. Tel.: +353 1 7166512; firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: The Irish Prevention of Falls and Fracture Strategy document emphasises the key role of General Practitioners (GPs) and primary healthcare professionals in prevention of osteoporosis and its associated costs. This study aimed to explore GP awareness and knowledge, management approaches, access to and utilisation of other professional services for osteoporosis in Ireland.
METHODS: A random sample (n = 265; 10% ) of registered GPs in Ireland was surveyed and resultant data were analysed using: descriptive statistics; chi square tests for subgroup comparisons (Statistical Package for Social Sciences).
RESULTS: A 56% (n = 147) response rate was achieved. GP awareness of osteoporosis among women was good but less so for osteoporosis among men. Previous low trauma fracture, prolonged corticosteroid use, family history of osteoporosis, early menopause and x-ray evidence were commonly used as clinical indicators of osteoporosis. 97% of respondents reported excellent private availability of DXA scans and 69% reported good public availability. GP-reported practice followed the guidelines regarding osteoporosis medications for the most part. 75% of GP respondents reported only basic to moderate knowledge on advising patients regarding falls prevention and 84% would prefer to refer patients to another health professional but levels of access to appropriate services varied.
CONCLUSIONS: GP awareness of osteoporosis among women is good but less so for osteoporosis among men. Bone health medications prescribed are consistent with current evidence but more specifics regarding nature and patterns of prescription are required. Discrepancies in availability and access to private and public Health professional and DXA services were reported. The role of various health professionals, including Physiotherapists, in promoting bone health should be highlighted to GPs.
Keywords: Osteoporosis, bone health, GP, primary care, physiotherapy