May 2020

Fragility Fractures, Bone Health Management, and Caregiving

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By Joanna Sale, PhD

Patients who have fragility fractures may experience a disruption of their responsibilities as caregivers to family members and others who depend on them.  The purpose our study was to examine how caregiving responsibilities were associated with, and possibly impacted by, the fracture experience and the resulting management of bone health. Without being prompted to talk abo

ut their experiences of caregiving, approximately 25% of our sample of 145 individuals reported they were providing care to a family member or friend at the time of their fracture or during recovery post-fracture.  The caregiving role appeared to be a cause of the fracture in some participants and caregiving was prioritized over participants’ own bone health management.  We believe that fragility fracture potentially leads to an impairment of an important social role in patients providing physical and emotional support for dependents as caregivers.

Our results suggest that healthcare providers could facilitate self-management of individuals’ fracture and bone health while these individuals serve as caregivers to others.  For example, an individual with a recent wrist fracture attempting to open a spouse’s medicine bottles would have different needs from an individual with a history of vertebral fractures who is caring for his or her grandchildren. Clinicians could learn more about how the caregiver role affects bone health management by requesting details about specific tasks related to caregiving and how they have affected the fracture and bone health, and vice versa.

Joanna Sale, PhD, is a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, and associate professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Source: Sale JEM, Frankel L, Paiva J, et al. Having caregiving responsibilities affects management of fragility fractures and bone health. Osteoporosis Int. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-020-05385-1

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