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The World Health Organization identifies that osteoporosis is one of the leading health problems in the Western world. An increased risk of fragility fracture is observed in more socially disadvantaged individuals in most Western countries. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is currently the procedure of choice to diagnose osteoporosis and assess fracture risk. We systematically reviewed the literature regarding social determinants of DXA utilization for osteoporosis detection in patients aged 50 yr and older using a computer-aided search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PsychINFO from January 1994 to December 2010. Five cross-sectional studies, incorporating 16 separate analyses, were identified for inclusion in this review. The best evidence analysis identified limited evidence for a positive association between either income or education with DXA utilization; furthermore, the best evidence analysis found no evidence for an association between either marital status or working status and DXA utilization. Further research is required to identify whether a relationship exists and elucidate reasons for disparities in DXA utilization between different social groups, such as choice and referral processes, as a necessary precursor in identifying modifiable determinants and appropriate strategies to promote preventive screening to identify fracture risk.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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