(HealthDay News) — Too few women at high risk for osteoporosis are being tested for the condition, while too many women at low risk are being screened, according to new research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

A team led by Anna Lee Amarnath, MD, MPH, of the University of California, Davis, examined the medical records of 50,995 women, aged 40 to 85 years, living in the Sacramento area. The researchers looked at whether or not women were receiving dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) tests.

The result: Osteoporosis screening rates jumped sharply at age 50, despite guidelines suggesting that screening only begin at age 65, unless a woman has certain risk factors (BMI lower than 20, glucocorticoid use, secondary osteoporosis, prior high-risk fracture, rheumatoid arthritis, alcohol abuse and current smoking). 

The researchers also found that those risk factors had only a slight effect on a woman’s decision to get tested. 

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Over 7 years, more than 42% of eligible women aged 65 to 74 years were not screened, Amarath’s team found, and nearly 57% of those older than age 75 years were not screened. However, nearly 46% of low-risk women aged 50 to 59 years were screened, as were 59% of low-risk women aged 60 to 64 years.

“Health systems should invest in developing electronic health records systems that prompt providers at the point-of-care when screening is needed and when it can be postponed,” study senior author Joshua Fenton, MD, MPH, an associate professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis, said in a journal news release.


  1. Amarnath ALD et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2015;doi:10.1007/s11606-015-3349-8.