This report provides an overview of the available quantitative information about osteoporosis in the Netherlands, and of the costs associated with it. We present information relevant for this country, making as few assumptions as possible. Although the main subject is osteoporosis, the focus in this report is on fractures, as these are the most relevant outcome events of this condition. Data were collected from publicly available data sources and from international literature and information is mostly about the year 1993. The reader finds detailed information about the occurrence of osteoporosis and fractures, the utilization of health care, mortality, and the costs in the results section of this report. In the conclusions, we present a synthesis of the most important findings. Osteoporosis is, by consensus, defined as a systemic skeletal disease, characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture. There is an important age-related decrease in bone mass and bone strength. Osteoporosis is primarily described in post-menopausal women but men are not free from it; they also reach high fracture incidence rates at an older age. Combined with the longer survival of women, this leads to the observation that most osteoporotic fractures are encountered in females. Osteoporosis and fractures are a major source of illness and healthcare costs in the Netherlands, both today as in the foreseeable future. Especially the most serious consequence, hip fracture, is frequent and the incidence is increasing. The total number of hip fractures will inevitable rise if no serious prevention efforts are undertaken. For the prevention of osteoporotic fractures it is important to know who are at risk as well as which preventive strategy is effective for the different risk categories. The parameter that is most commonly used nowadays to determine fracture risk is bone mineral density (BMD), but also other factors are important contributors to the fracture risk, namely the previously mentioned bone quality and the propensity to fall. Prevention only focussed on bone mineral density will thus do nothing to prevent the hip fractures caused by the above mentioned factors. An additional effect of therapy on bone quality can be important and the intervention should certainly not have adverse effects on bone quality. Reducing the frequency and severity of falls, and the use of external protective devices, together with physical exercise and other lifestyle interventions, have been looked at as additional intervention possibilities. Patients with a hip fracture more often have concomitant illnesses and a poor general condition. This condition in itself can increase the risk of falling and the perioperative risk. This situation can also impair the rehabilitation after treatment and hamper mobilization. Osteoporosis and fractures are found to be an important cause of health care consumption. Hip fractures lead to long hospitalizations with a mean length of stay of 26 days. Forearm and vertebral fractures are most frequently treated in an outpatient setting. People over age 85, representing less than 2 % of the population nevertheless cause over one third of the hospitalization days for hip fractures. After the acute phase and the hospitalization, nursing home care is often needed. Using hospital data, we see that 21 % of men and 27 % of women are discharged directly into nursing homes. In this study we estimated the direct medical cost associated with fractures at older age. The cost of osteoporosis is mainly the cost of hip fractures. It is this cost we could determine most accurately. The results indicate a yearly cost between 390 and 470 million Dutch guilders. It appears that the cost of medication is minor, compared to the cost of clinical treatment of the fractures.

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Keywords burden of illness, costs, fractures, osteoporosis
Persistent URL
de Laet, C.E.D., van Hout, B.A., & Pols, H.A.P.. (1996). Osteoporosis in the Netherlands; A burden of illness study commissioned by Merck Sharp & Dohme. Retrieved from