Health Services Research & Development

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Colón-Emeric CS, Pieper CF, Van Houtven CH, Grubber JM, Lyles KW, Lafleur J, Adler RA. Limited Osteoporosis Screening Effectiveness Due to Low Treatment Rates in a National Sample of Older Men. Mayo Clinic proceedings. 2018 Dec 1; 93(12):1749-1759.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) testing for osteoporosis and subsequent fractures in US male veterans without a previous fracture. PATIENTS AND METHODS: This is a propensity score-matched observational study using Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Veterans Affairs (VA) data from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2010, with a mean follow-up time of 4.7 years (range, 0-10 years). Men receiving VA primary care aged 65 to 99 years without a previous fracture (N=2,539,812) were included. Men undergoing DXA testing were propensity score matched with untested controls in a 1:3 ratio, indicating the probability of DXA testing within the next year. Time to first clinical fracture was the primary outcome. Comorbidities, demographic characteristics, medications, DXA results, and osteoporosis treatment were defined using administrative data and natural language processing. A landmark analysis contingent on surviving to 12 months after screening was completed, accounting for competing risk of mortality. RESULTS: During follow-up of 153,311 men tested by DXA and 390,158 controls, 56,083 (10.3%) had sustained a fracture and 111,774 (20.6%) died. Overall, DXA testing was not associated with a decrease in fractures; conclusions are limited by unmeasured confounders and low medication initiation and adherence in those meeting treatment thresholds (12% of follow-up time). In contrast, DXA testing in prespecified subgroups was associated with a lower risk of fracture in comparison to the overall population who underwent DXA testing: androgen deprivation therapy (hazard ratio [HR], 0.77; 95% CI, 0.66-0.89), glucocorticoids (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.72-0.84), age 80 years and older (HR, 0.85; 0.81-0.90), 1 or more VA guideline risk factors (HR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.87-0.95), and high Fracture Risk Assessment Tool using body mass index score (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.86-0.95). CONCLUSION: Current VA DXA testing practices are ineffective overall; interventions to improve treatment adherence are needed. Targeted DXA testing in higher-risk men was associated with a lower fracture risk.