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Background: National guidelines recommend bisphosphonates for secondary prevention of osteoporotic fractures; however, poor compliance may result in sub-optimal prevention. Objective: This study reports the feasibility of using GP electronic records to identify poorly compliant post-menopausal women who may be at increased risk of fragility fractures. Design: Cross-sectional study of general practice computer records. Subjects: Women over 45 years, registered in 29 practices across England with a total population of approximately 200,000. Methods: MIQUEST (Morbidity Information Query and Export Syntax) a data extraction application was used to extract prescription, diagnostic data and probable fragility fractures (hip, vertebral, wrist). All women >45 years who received a first prescription for a weekly bisphosphonate (alendronate or risedronate) at least a year before data extraction were identified. Each record was examined to determine the number of days of prescribed treatment. Results: Of 97992 registered women, 44% (42734) were >45 years. Prevalence of likely fragility fractures in women over 45 was 5.1% (2195/42734). 3.0% (1286/42734, mean age 72 years) received a prescription for a bisphosphonate in the 360 day period prior to data extraction with a median duration of treatment of 267 days. 45% (584/1286) received prescriptions covering >288/360 days (Medicine Possession Ratio >80%); 13% (161/1286) collected prescriptions covering >360 days. In those prescribed bisphosphonates, 23% (294/1286) had a likely fragility fracture. Conclusions: Women >45 years with probable fragility fractures are more likely to be prescribed bisphosphonates, though less than half will be actually taking them as prescribed. GPs should use computer technology to identify poorly compliant patients who are unnecessarily at risk of fracture. © 2006 International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Original publication




Journal article


Osteoporosis International

Publication Date





1808 - 1814