Pharmacological management of osteoporosis in nursing home residents: the Shelter study

Alireza Malek Makan, Hein van Hout, Graziano Onder, Henriette van der Roest, Harriet Finne-Soveri, Eva Topinkova, Michael Denkinger, Jacob Gindin, Rob van Marum

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To prevent osteoporotic fractures in nursing home residents a combination of bisphosphonates, calcium and vitamin D is recommended. This study assessed the prevalence of pharmacological osteoporosis prevention in nursing home residents from eight countries, and assessed its association with patient characteristics. Design: Cross-sectional analyses of the SHELTER study data. We assessed the overall prevalence of osteoporosis medication (OM) use (vitamin D, calcium and bisphosphonates) in residents stratified for falls and fractures over last 30 days, health instability with high mortality risk, cognitive impairment, and dependence in walking. Setting and Participants: Nursing home residents in the Czech Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Israel. Results: Of 3832 eligible residents, vitamin D, calcium and bisphosphonates were used by 16.2%, 10.4%, and 4.5% respectively. All 3 classes of OM together were used by 1.5% of all residents. Of residents with a recent fracture, 9.5% used a bisphosphonate (2.7% all 3 OMs). In patients with recent falls, 20.8% used vitamin D and 15.3% calcium. In residents with severe cognitive impairment, 15.5% used vitamin D and 9.3% used calcium. Of the bisphosphonate users, 33.7% also used both vitamin D and calcium, 25.8% used only calcium in addition and 17.4% only vitamin D in addition. The use of any OM varied widely across countries, from 66.8% in Finland to 3.0% in Israel. Conclusions and Implications: We found substantial pharmacological under-treatment of prevention of osteoporosis in residents with recent falls, fractures and dependence in walking. Only two-thirds of bisphosphonate users also took a vitamin D–calcium combination, despite guideline recommendations. On the other hand, possible over-treatment was found in residents with high mortality risk in whom preventive pharmacotherapy might not have still been appropriate. The prevalence of pharmacological prevention of osteoporosis differed substantially between countries. Efforts are needed to improve pharmacotherapy in residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-189
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • life expectancy
  • nursing home
  • osteoporosis
  • osteoporosis medication

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