June 27, 2018 — Submitted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to UH Med Now. Photo by Amanda Shell, UH Med Now.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for osteoporosis to prevent fractures in women ages 65 and older, says task force member Chien-Wen Tseng, a professor of family medicine and community health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
The Task Force also recommends screening for osteoporosis to prevent fractures in women younger than age 65 years who have been through menopause and are at increased risk for osteoporosis. Task force recommendations often influence health care practices across the country.
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and can break or fracture more easily. These fractures, also called osteoporotic or fragility fractures, can result from a minor fall or injury that typically would not cause a break in normal, healthy bones. These fractures can lead to serious disability, loss of independence, decreased quality of life, and, in some cases, even death.
“Without screening, most women won’t know that they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture. Screening and treatment can help prevent these fractures,” says Task Force member Chien-Wen Tseng, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.E.E. “Based on the evidence, we recommend screening for women over the age of 65 and younger women who have been through menopause and are at increased risk for osteoporosis.”
While the Task Force recommends the screening for women over 65 (a “B” recommendation, meaning there is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial), it found that there is not enough evidence to determine if men should be screened for osteoporosis to prevent fractures. (This is an “I” statement — insufficient evidence — and not a recommendation for or against the practice).
“While both men and women can develop osteoporosis, there’s less evidence to know whether screening and current treatments prevent fractures in men without a history of fractures. More studies are needed that look at how well treatments work in men who have not had a fracture,” says Task Force vice chair Alex H. Krist, M.D., M.P.H.
These final recommendations apply to older adults who do not have a history of prior fragility fractures or health conditions that could lead to weakened bones.
This recommendation statement has been published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as well as on the Task Force Web site at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.
About Dr. Tseng
Dr. Tseng is the Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association endowed chair in health services and quality research, a professor, and the associate research director in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine. She is also a physician investigator with the nonprofit Pacific Health Research and Education Institute, and a practicing family medicine physician.
About Dr. Krist
Dr. Krist is a professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University and an active clinician and teacher at the Fairfax Family Practice Residency. He is codirector of the Virginia Ambulatory Care Outcomes Research Network and director of community-engaged research at the Center for Clinical and Translational Research.
For more information, contact: USPSTF Media Coordinator at Newsroom@USPSTF.net / (202) 572-2044.