Identifying patients with osteoporosis or at risk for osteoporotic fractures

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology; Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics

Publication Date


Document Type



Absorptiometry, Photon; Aged; Bone Density; Female; Humans; Managed Care Programs; Massachusetts; Medical Records; Middle Aged; Osteoporosis; Osteoporotic Fractures; Retrospective Studies; Risk Assessment; Sensitivity and Specificity


Health Services Research | Musculoskeletal Diseases


OBJECTIVES: To test the validity of using administrative data to identify patients with osteoporosis or low bone mineral density (BMD) and high risk for osteoporotic fractures.

STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective cohort study.

METHODS: We analyzed data from a managed care plan in Massachusetts. We developed 6 case-identification algorithms based on number of osteoporosis (OP) diagnoses, clinical setting of the OP diagnosis, timing of the OP diagnosis relative to BMD test, and clinical fracture risk factors adapted from the World Health Organization Fracture Risk Assessment Tool. We validated the algorithms against BMD results and calculated sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value (PPV) against 2 diagnostic criteria (T-score

RESULTS: When compared against the first criterion (T-score ≤--2.5), the sensitivity of algorithm (35% to 80%), specificity (65% to 93%), PPV (44% to 63%), and adding fracture risk factors did not improve case identification. When compared against the expanded criterion (T-score ≤--2.0), we found the sensitivity of the algorithms ranged from 23% to 63%, specificity from 72% to 95%, and PPV from 67% to 83%. Including fracture risk in the expanded OP criterion improved case identification, and the algorithms achieved the highest PPV: 70% to 85%.

CONCLUSIONS: Identifying patients with OP or low BMD and high risk for osteoporotic fractures is possible in administrative data if using information about both OP diagnoses and fracture risk profile.


Am J Manag Care. 2012 Feb 1;18(2):e61-7.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of managed care

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