The orthopaedic surgeon may be the first medical specialist to interact with a patient with clinically important osteoporosis, providing an opportunity to educate that patient about this disease. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether patients could be effectively educated with regard to osteoporosis and lifestyle modification during their outpatient visits to an orthopaedic surgeon's office.

Eighty female patients ranging from fifteen to seventy-three years of age completed an eleven-question quiz that included items regarding their knowledge of osteoporosis, calcium intake, menopausal status, exercise, smoking, and whether or not they had had a bone mineral density scan. The quiz was completed during a visit to an outpatient sports medicine/general orthopaedic clinic. After the quiz, an educational intervention was performed by providing the patients with an informational handout. The patients were followed at an average interval of six months and were reassessed either in the office or over the telephone with use of the same quiz to evaluate increases in knowledge and modification of lifestyle.

Fifty-four premenopausal and twenty-six postmenopausal patients were available for follow-up. The premenopausal and postmenopausal groups differed at the beginning of the study, with premenopausal patients having a higher daily calcium intake (p = 0.008) and a better ability to define osteoporosis (p = 0.004) and postmenopausal patients having a higher rate of having had a prior bone mineral density scan (p < 0.001). In response to the educational intervention, significant improvements were seen in terms of the patients' ability to define osteoporosis (p = 0.004), the ability to identify being female as a major risk factor (p < 0.001), and the understanding that females should begin adequate calcium intake at a young age (p < 0.001). Significant increases in daily calcium intake (p < 0.001) and exercise level also occurred (p < 0.003). The postmenopausal group demonstrated a less robust response to the educational intervention.

The outpatient orthopaedic sports medicine office setting represents a prime opportunity for education regarding osteoporosis prevention and lifestyle modification that can be performed in an inexpensive fashion and that can be easily replicated in most offices both in the community and in academic settings.

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