New osteoporosis guidelines to help improve Australia’s bone health

21 March, 2017

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is confident new osteoporosis guidelines released recently will help general practitioners improve the bone health of Australian patients.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said osteoporosis was a major health issue and the guidelines, developed by Osteoporosis Australia on behalf of the RACGP, would result in better detection and management of osteoporosis.

"About 4.74 million Australians over the age of 50 have osteoporosis or osteopenia and most of these patients will turn to their GP for support," Dr Seidel said.

"The new osteoporosis guidelines provide GPs with timely and much needed expert guidance to better detect, diagnose, and manage patients with osteoporosis. They will take away the ambiguity that has previously been associated with osteoporosis management.

"GPs are often the first port of call for patients with osteoporosis and therefore must have the most up-to-date information and expert guidance on how to treat osteoporosis and the new guidelines provide just that."

Chair of the Osteoporosis Guideline Committee Professor Peter Ebeling AO said the new guidelines will help doctors overcome common under-treatment of osteoporosis in Australia.

"Too few people with important risk factors for osteoporosis are investigated or treated. GPs play a front-line role in osteoporosis management and these new guidelines create a real opportunity for improving detection rates in general practice and reduce the burden of fractures. Importantly, fewer than 20 per cent of patients who sustain a fracture due to osteoporosis are currently treated, despite effective treatments being available. So we need to improve this," Professor Ebeling said.

"If patients present with an osteoporotic fracture or risk factors for osteoporosis, action can be taken. GPs are critically poised to take up the challenge presented by osteoporosis and become champions of change to close the existing evidence-treatment gap."

The new guidelines include an easy-to-use osteoporosis risk assessment, diagnosis and management flowchart summarising key practice tips and new treatment recommendations.

"We are confident these guidelines will assist GPs as we aim to further reduce overall fracture rates in Australia," Dr Seidel said.

The flow chart and summary of recommendations and new guideline can be accessed on the RACGP website.