Women who are living by herself, earning low incomes, and having poor knowledge about osteoporosis are likely to miss osteoporosis tests and treatment benefits, a local study showed.
The Korean Society for Bone and Mineral Research (KSBMR)’s study, “Factors affecting willingness to get assessed and treated for osteoporosis,” has been published on the online issue of Osteoporosis International as of April 3.
The research team conducted a nationwide online survey on 926 Korean women over age 50. The researchers analyzed their socio-economic factors, health status (exposure to risks of developing osteoporosis), and knowledge of osteoporosis as measured using the “Facts on Osteoporosis Quiz.”
The results showed that single, younger women who did not have full knowledge of osteoporosis were unlikely to go through an osteoporosis test. Younger generations and low-income families did not receive steady treatment for osteoporosis.
The most significant reason for choosing to undergo an osteoporosis assessment was “Fear of osteoporotic fracture,” with 55 percent of the respondents saying so. Other reasons included “Physician’s recommendation” (30 percent), “Advice to be tested from family or friends” (8 percent), and “Family history of osteoporosis” (4 percent).
The reasons for avoiding an osteoporosis test included “Unfelt need to get tested” (58 percent), “Perceived inconvenient to access healthcare facilities” (27 percent), “Economic burden to pay the bills” (22 percent), and “Lack of awareness regarding osteoporosis assessment” (12 percent).
“Women with family history of osteoporosis, history of steroid use, and experience of a reduced height are relatively active in managing osteoporosis, while high-risk women who are exposed to smoking or drinking may need more attention because they overlook osteoporosis testing and treatment,” said Roh Young-hak, a professor at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery of Ewha Womans University Medical Center, who was the lead author of the paper.
The medical community and the health authorities should enhance the access to treatment for the socially marginalized, including low-income, single, and senior women he added.
Chung Ho-yeon, a professor at the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism of Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, said although the awareness of osteoporosis is increasing in Korea, perceptions about testing and treatment are still very low.
“Seven out of 10 women aged between 50 and 80 said they did not have any osteoporosis screening. The wider coverage of osteoporosis tests for women aged over 54, instead of those over 66, should be widely known to the public,” he added.
KSBMR, which celebrates 30th anniversary this year, said it would conduct a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the need for osteoporosis treatment and a research project for the prevention of refracturing in osteoporotic fracture patients.