Questionnaire helps doctors predict female non-adherence to osteoporosis medications

Because individuals who neglect to take treatments for bone loss are at a high risk for fractures, scientists at Boston's Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently created a series of questions designed to help physicians predict which patients will not adhere to their osteoporosis medications.

Researchers found that 62 percent of women who scored seven or more points on a specially developed oral exam were less likely to adhere to their medication regimens, according to a report published in the journal Osteoporosis International.

By contrast, among those that scored six points or fewer, only 17 percent ended up demonstrating low fidelity to their courses of osteoporosis medication.

Physicians can prescribe a number of pharmacological treatments for progressive bone loss, including bisphosphonates, selective estrogen receptor modulators, synthetic thyroid hormones or estrogen therapy, the Mayo Clinic states. Likewise, many people with osteoporosis take calcium and vitamin D to encourage healthy bone density.

For people with serious bone loss, the importance of regularly taking osteoporosis medications can hardly be overstated.

A study of osteoporotic women under age 65 conducted by CVS Caremark determined that women who go untreated are almost six times more likely to experience a fracture within two years, compared to those who take prescription drugs for the disease.

In the latest investigation, scientists asked more than 140 women with osteoporosis dozens of questions concerning their health, wellness, lifestyle and beliefs.

The team found that seven specific variables strongly predicted non-adherence to osteoporosis drugs. These factors included previous non-adherence to medications, regular alcohol use, worries about the side effects of osteoporosis medications and unconcern about progressive bone loss, as well as a woman's beliefs that she is taking too many drugs already, that she is not at risk for broken bones and that medications will not keep her active.

Of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, approximately 8 million are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.