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The University of Southampton

Southampton research used to develop European Osteoporosis Policy Toolkit

Published: 27 March 2020
Fractured bones

Southampton research into osteoporosis and fractures, undertaken over the past three decades, is influencing health policy across Europe.

The research, published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology and which clarified the descriptive epidemiology of hip, vertebral and distal forearm fractures; their impact and economic costs; the pathophysiology of osteoporosis and sarcopenia; and available preventive and therapeutic strategies throughout the lifecoure, has been used to develop the European Osteoporosis Policy Toolkit.

The policy toolkit summarises the current situation and the resources provided and will help advocate for policy change in osteoporosis and fragility fractures at the European level. Ten countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, and UK) are included in the policy toolkit.

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the structure of bones as we age, making them weaker and more susceptible to fractures. Fragility fractures can be life-changing, often leading to loss of mobility and independence, isolation, transition into long-term care, and even death.

Every day in the EU there are almost 10,000 fragility fractures – most of which are among women over the age of 50. With a rapidly ageing population, the number of fragility fractures in Europe is estimated to be 4.5 million a year by 2025.
When osteoporosis is identified early, further loss of bone density can be slowed or reversed, subsequently reducing the risk of fragility fractures. However, osteoporosis and fragility fractures have for far too long been ignored in health policy and now across Europe it is estimated that almost 70% of women over 70 who have osteoporosis are going undiagnosed.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton and current President of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, is a member of the Osteoporosis and Fragility Fracture Working Group and Parliamentary Forum, which devised the toolkit.

Professor Cooper said: “Preventing any kind of fragility fracture from occurring in the first place is a huge opportunity - both in terms of maintaining people's quality of life and sparing health systems and society the costs and lost productivity these fractures cause.”

The toolkit has been developed by a multidisciplinary group of experts including former parliamentarians, clinicians and advocates who have come together to develop joint priorities for managing osteoporosis and for the prevention and care of fragility fractures.

Find out more by downloading the Osteoporosis and fragility fractures a policy toolkit PDF

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