Women with osteoporosis who previously had fractures experience a significant reduction in health-related quality of life similar to or worse than that experienced by patients with diabetes mellitus, arthritis, lung disease, and other chronic illnesses, according to the Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW). Fractures often result in chronic pain, reduced mobility, loss of independence and, especially with hip fracture, an increased risk of death.
About 40% of women older than 50 years will experience a fracture, the researchers noted, most frequently at the hip, spine, or wrist. Because the likelihood of fractures increases substantially with older age, fracture numbers are projected to increase as the population ages.
The study authors administered health surveys to nearly 60,000 postmenopausal women in 10 countries to compare the overall health status, physical function, and vitality of participants and assess health-related quality of life. They used a standardized index that measured 5 dimensions of health: mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression.
The study found that spine, hip, and upper leg fractures result in the greatest decrease in quality of life. The results also indicated that the reductions in quality of life are as lasting and as disabling as those with other chronic conditions and that the greater the number of fractures, the greater the disability, suggesting that efforts are needed for fracture prevention.
The GLOW study, based at the Center for Outcomes Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, was published online in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com). For a discussion of osteoporosis screening guidelines, go to www.musculoskeletalnetwork.com to see “Broader osteoporosis screening guideline drafted” [“News,” July 29, 2010].