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Effect of patient-led cooperative follow-up by general practitioners and community pharmacists on osteoporosis treatment persistence

Didier Poivret 1Christophe Goetz 2Yinka Zevering 3Christophe Wilcke 4Véronique Noirez 5

Int J Rheum Dis. 2021 May 31.doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.14146. 


Aim: Osteoporosis is a major risk factor for fractures. Poor persistence with osteoporosis medication hampers outcomes. This study assessed whether encouraging the formation of patient-led follow-up cooperatives between general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacists improved medication persistence.

Methods: All consecutive patients who attended an osteoporosis patient education program were invited to participate. They were given a logbook containing questionnaires they would bring to 6-monthly visits to their GP and pharmacist. The effect of this 3-year cooperative follow-up on persistence with medication and lifestyle changes was assessed.

Results: In total, 121 patients (average age, 67 years; 93% female) participated. Poor cooperation between GPs and pharmacists was noted. Nevertheless, medication persistence ranged from 83% to 91% over the 6 visits. However, since patient drop-out rates were high and questionnaire return rates were low, a post-study medical chart review was performed. This confirmed that persistence was high (74%-83%) at 3 years post-enrollment, even for oral bisphosphonate-treated patients (73%-76%). However, adoption of anti-osteoporosis lifestyle changes was poor throughout the study: one- to two-thirds of the patients did not alter their diet, physical activity, or surroundings to prevent falls.

Conclusion: One study goal, namely, to encourage GPs and pharmacists to cooperate in patient follow-up, was not achieved. However, high medication persistence was observed. This may reflect the education program, patient empowerment, personalized attention from study personnel, and being in a study. Patient-centered approaches can thus significantly increase medication persistence in osteoporosis. Ongoing education may be needed to improve patient adoption of and persistence with lifestyle changes.