The phone rings, and just like that, your life changes. It’s THE call, the one you’ve been dreading for years: Mom fell and broke her hip. You slump on the couch, momentarily overwhelmed. And then the thoughts start: message spouse and kids, pack an overnight bag, and google “broken hip” because for all the time you’ve spent anticipating it, you realize you don’t know much.
Every year, half a million Americans experience geriatric fractures. The overwhelming majority of the time, these fractures are treated as acute conditions, and their underlying cause is not diagnosed, much less treated. For a variety of reasons, doctors don’t make the connection, and patients and caregivers don’t know to ask. All too often, they are left thinking fractures are an inevitable part of aging. It’s time to change that.
Patients and caregivers run to search engines upon experiencing new symptoms or receiving a diagnosis (Zschorlich et al, 2015; Heath Union, 2016). In fact, they spend more time researching health info online than they do talking to doctors (State of Healthcare Searches Online, 2013). This makes the time after a first break a prime opportunity to intervene on caregivers’ (and patients’) knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes regarding fragility fractures -- and their connection with osteoporosis. Regardless of the search term used, the bulk of people will end up being funneled to pages on a few dozen websites.
This project is a campaign for those handful of health and information sites to emphasize a few key messages about:
- the link between fragility fractures and osteoporosis,
- the risks of untreated osteoporosis,
- the availability and benefits of treatment, and
- a clear call to action: for caregivers and patients to ask about the appropriateness of a bone density scan or anti-osteoporotic treatment.
When caregivers bring up well-informed, open-ended concerns, providers listen -- and act. And alerting caregivers and paitients to the possibility of osteoporosis, and the path towards hope helps them ensure they are receiving appropriate care.
The first step in this program is to pilot key messages with caregivers and providers for clarity, salience, and appropriateness. Step 2 is to launch a campaign to encourage key websites to integrate the messages into relevant webpages on their sites.