Women experience rapid bone loss following menopause. Currently available guidelines recommend lifestyle counseling and pharmacotherapy for osteoporosis prevention and treatment in postmenopausal women.
We analyzed 2 years of National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data (1997-1998), a national representative survey evaluating recent national patterns of antiosteoporosis medication (AOM) use and lifestyle counseling among office visits made by nonpregnant women 40 years and older.
Women 40 years and older made an estimated 267 million office visits annually. Of those visits, about 10% were associated with AOM therapy. Estrogen replacement therapy was the most prevalent form of AOM therapy (80%) followed by therapy with calcium and/or cholecalciferol (vitamin D) supplements (15%). Visits for AOM were more likely to be associated with women in their 50s and 60s, white race, and having private insurance or Medicare. Women at AOM visits were twice as likely to receive concurrent lifestyle counseling than women at visits without AOM therapy.
Women are particularly at risk for osteoporosis as they experience menopause, with estimates of 20 million women with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Despite the high prevalence, our study showed that only 10% of all visits were associated with 1 or more AOM therapy prescribed, provided, or continued in 1997 and 1998. These data also suggest that women with Medicaid or self-pay status were less likely to receive AOMs than women with other forms of insurance. The status of AOM therapy and lifestyle counseling in ambulatory care practice in the United States during 1997 and 1998 was less than optimal.