OsteoLink Survey Key Findings

Background information and key findings

In September 2009 IOF presented results from a multinational survey of patients and doctors at the 31st annual meeting of the American Society of Mineral and Bone Research (ASBMR) in September 2009. Below is an overview of the Survey's key findings:

Key findings

Patients claim to be better informed about their osteoporosis than the data reveal

  • 69% of patients feel well informed about their osteoporosis
  • 93% of patients correctly describe osteoporosis as a condition that “causes bones to be brittle and fracture/break easily” yet over half (57%) of patients still incorrectly believe osteoporosis is just “part of getting old"
  • However, 1 in 3 patients cannot identify any of the risk factors for osteoporosis
  • On a positive 4 out of 5 patients (82%) confirm they are informed by their physicians about the importance of treatment adherence, and 87% of physicians confirm they provide their patients with this information
  • However, approximately one third (32%) admit to discontinuing their osteoporosis treatment and almost the same number of patients (29%) do not see a problem in missing a dose once in a while

Patients are significantly more concerned about the impact osteoporosis has on their quality of life than physicians believe

  • 79% of patients are afraid of fracturing/breaking a bone while physicians think only about half of patients (51%) might fear fracture
  • 70% of patients are afraid that they won’t be able to be as active as they would like while physicians estimate this percentage at only 40%
  • 60% of the patients worry about becoming more dependent on others while physicians estimate this percentage at only 30%
  • 57% of patients are afraid of not being able to work for as long as they need to while physicians only estimate that 30% of patients have these concerns

Patients’ fear fractures, yet their adherence to treatment is poor. Although they admit to receiving information on the importance of taking their osteoporosis medicine, they do not fully understand that adherence significantly increases fracture protection.

  • 79% of patients are afraid of fracturing/breaking a bone
  • 82% of the patients report being informed by their physicians on the importance of taking their treatment continuously
  • Approximately 1 out of 3 patients (32%) admit to discontinuing their osteoporosis treatment
  • These patients report they discontinue their osteoporosis treatment for about 5.5 months on average; 2.6 months longer than physicians estimate
  • More than one in four (29%) of patients do not see a problem in missing a dose once in a while

Patients want easy to understand tools and greater interaction with their physicians and other patients to help manage their osteoporosis

  • Patients believe that specialists (94%), GPs (88%) and brochures from osteoporosis organizations (76%) are the most credible sources of information on their osteoporosis
  • 75% of patients want to receive written information “in terms I understand”
  • 62% of patients would find it helpful to have more frequent contact with their physicians about their osteoporosis
  • 60% of patients find it helpful to talk to their friends about osteoporosis
  • 58% of patients request a program that builds their emotional and physical confidence in managing their osteoporosis
  • Almost one in two (49%) patients would welcome opportunities to come together with other people in their community to discuss day to day challenges of living with osteoporosis

Physicians support patient programmes and are eager for tools to help communicate with their patients about their osteoporosis

  • 64% of physicians believe that other osteoporosis patients are a credible source of information for their patients
  • 88% of physicians believe that brochures from osteoporosis organizations are one of the most credible source for getting information on osteoporosis
  • 80% of the physicians would hand out educational information to their patients to enhance patient adherence to osteoporosis therapy
  • 76% of the physicians are willing to recommend a patient adherence program to their patients

Survey methodology

The OsteoLink survey, conducted by Germany market research specialist, GfK and its affiliates, was fielded in Australia and 12 countries in Europe. The European countries represented are Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK.

The survey has a total sample size of 844 patients (women 55+ with post menopausal osteoporosis) and 837 physicians (general practitioners and specialists with 3 to 35 years of experience in treating osteoporosis) across the 13 countries. All research was done through structured telephone interviews, lasting an average of 15-20 minutes.

All fieldwork was conducted in June and July of 2009.


1. Rabenda V, Mertens R, Fabri V, et al. (2008) Adherence to bisphosphonates therapy and hip fracture risk in osteoporotic women. Osteoporos Int 19:811.