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Summary Studies investigating prevalent vertebral fracture (VF) diagnosed using densitometry-based VF assessment (VFA) and associations with physical function, assessed by performance-based measures, are lacking. In this population-based study of 1027 older women, we found that prevalent VF, identified by VFA, was associated with inferior physical health, back pain and inferior physical function. Purpose: Several studies have investigated the associations between health-related quality of life (HRQL) and back pain with prevalent VF, detected by spine radiographs, but just a few have been population-based and have used vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) for diagnosing VF. The aims of this study were to investigate associations between prevalent VF, detected by VFA, with HRQL, back pain and physical function, and investigate if also mild VFs were associated with these clinical parameters. Methods: One thousand twenty-seven women aged 75–80 years participated in this population-based cross-sectional study. VF was identified by VFA using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. HRQL was assessed by SF-12, back pain during the past 12 months using a questionnaire, and physical function was tested with one leg standing (OLS), Timed Up and Go (TUG), walking speed, 30-s chair stand test and maximum grip strength. Results: Physical health (Physical Component Summary, PCS), derived from SF-12, was worse (43.5 ± 11.3 vs. 46.2 ± 10.5, p < 0.001) and back pain more frequent in women with any VF than in women without (69.0 vs. 59.9%, p = 0.008). PCS and physical function (OLS, 30-s chair stand test), were significantly worse for mild VF compared to no VF (43.8 ± 10.9 vs. 46.2 ± 10.5, p < 0.001, 12.7 ± 9.9 vs. 15.3 ± 10.4 s, p = 0.038, 10.7 ± 3.2 vs. 11.4 ± 3.4 times, p = 0.021, respectively). In multivariable adjusted linear regression models, VF prevalence was associated with PCS (β = − 0.079, p = 0.007), TUG (β = 0.067, p = 0.021), walking speed (β = − 0.071, p = 0.009) and 30-s chair stand test (β = − 0.075, p = 0.012). Conclusions: In conclusion, prevalent VF, diagnosed by VFA, was associated with inferior physical health, back pain and inferior physical function, indicating VFA is useful for diagnosing clinically relevant vertebral fractures. Also, mild VF was associated with inferior physical health and inferior physical function.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Open Access Journal Article

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License