Osteopenia and Falls: Meeting the Need for Early Patient Intervention

Document Type


Publication Date



Advisor: Rickie Brawer, Jefferson College of Population Health, Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA


Osteoporosis and related fractures are a leading cause of morbidity, mortality, and health care expenditure among older adults in the U.S. However, many of these risks can be mitigated through health behavior modification and treatment. Smoking cessation, alcohol use reduction, nutrient supplementation, exercise, medication, and other actions can be taken to substantially reduce the risk of a bone fracture, especially if these actions are taken early in the progression of bone loss. This program seeks to reduce the prevalence of osteoporosis with early detection through screening followed by patient education and referral to appropriate resources to reduce the patient’s risk for disease progression. Screening will be done in Jefferson University-affiliated emergency departments by trained staff and students using a survey that assesses the patient’s risk factors. Patients deemed to be at significant risk will then receive education from the same individual that conducted the survey. This education will include information about the risks of osteoporosis and specific actions that each individual patient can take to reduce their risk. Patients will also be offered information about making primary care appointments and utilizing various resources throughout the community. Patients will be followed to identify any health behavior changes as a part of ongoing program evaluation. Evaluation will also include emergency department staff surveys for program sustainability and analysis of the incidence of osteoporotic fractures. In the long term, this intervention aims to reduce the prevalence of osteoporosis through early intervention, ultimately reducing the number of older adults that suffer from bone fractures. Such an impact could have a substantial influence on quality of life, mortality and financial costs associated with osteoporotic fractures in Philadelphia and elsewhere, if the program proves to be effective.

Presentation: 5:59