Optimising osteoporosis care throughout Asia–Pacific

Sunday, 31 January, 2021

Optimising osteoporosis care throughout Asia–Pacific

The Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis (APCO) has launched pan-Asia–Pacific clinical practice standards for the screening, diagnosis and management of osteoporosis, targeting a broad range of high-risk groups.

Published in Osteoporosis International, ‘The APCO Framework’ comprises 16 minimum clinical standards set to serve as a benchmark for the provision of optimal osteoporosis care in the region.

Developed by APCO members representing key osteoporosis stakeholders, and multiple medical and surgical specialities, the clinical standards aim to support national societies, guidelines development authorities and healthcare policymakers with the development of new guidelines, and to encourage the revision of existing guidelines.

To inform the development of the Framework, APCO employed a 5IQ analysis and the Delphi Consensus process to analyse the 18 clinical practice guidelines currently available in the Asia–Pacific region.

Framework lead author, APCO Chairperson and Director of the Osteoporosis and Bone Metabolism Unit at Singapore General Hospital Dr Manju Chandran explained, “Utilising a comprehensive, four-round Delphi consensus method enabled our APCO members who work in vastly different healthcare systems to reach a remarkable level of consensus on a benchmark set of clinical standards for the provision of quality osteoporosis care for the Asia–Pacific region.”

The APCO Framework offers clinicians structured, well-articulated and readily accessible clinical practice guidelines that define:

  • individuals to be identified for assessment
  • investigations required
  • relevant indications for treatment
  • appropriate selection of interventions to be made
  • the guidance and information patients need for self-care
  • integration of healthcare systems for optimal provision of care
  • the need, and methods, for monitoring and improving the quality of osteoporosis care.

“Implementation of The APCO Framework, or a similar set of standards of care informed by the Framework, is expected to significantly reduce the burden of osteoporosis not only in the Asia–Pacific region, but also worldwide,” Dr Chandran said.

“We hope that the Framework can serve as a stimulus for harmonisation of guidelines in other regions that have similar socio-economic diversity and heterogeneity of healthcare resources.”

Osteoporotic fractures among Asia–Pacific populations are expected to increase exponentially, not only because of the region’s rapidly ageing population, but also due to mounting urbanisation and the subsequent increase in sedentary lifestyles.1

Despite the presence of generally safe and effective treatments for osteoporosis, as many as five in six patients presenting to their primary care physician (PCP), or to a hospital with a fragility fracture, will not be assessed for osteoporosis, nor appropriately managed to prevent further fracture.2

According to Medical Director of Osteoporosis Australia and APCO Executive Committee member Professor Peter Ebeling AO, as many as half of those who have sustained a hip fracture have already experienced a previous fracture at other skeletal sites.

“In fact, a prior fracture at any site is associated with a doubling of future fracture and mortality risk,” Professor Ebeling said.

“The unfortunate ramifications of the gross under-diagnosis and under-treatment of osteoporosis is that a large number of people sustain further debilitating secondary fractures, which places a substantial, but importantly, preventable burden on already strained healthcare systems.”

A fragility fracture, which occurs every three seconds worldwide,3 compromises quality of life and loss of independence.3,4 Concerningly, one-in-four patients who sustain a hip fracture die within a year, and less than half of those who survive regain their previous level of function.5,6 In 2010, an estimated 158 million people aged 50 years and above were at high risk for osteoporotic fracture — a figure that is set to double by 2040.7

According to International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) CEO and APCO Executive Committee member Dr Philippe Halbout, these alarming statistics, coupled with the anticipated, exponential rise in osteoporotic fractures among Asia–Pacific populations, warrant a standardised set of minimum clinical standards for the region.

“Anecdotal evidence to date reveals significant inconsistencies in osteoporosis clinical practice guidelines in the Asia–Pacific region, which vary widely in scope and recommendations. This was confirmed when we analysed the 18 guidelines.

“Implementation of the minimum clinical standards proposed by The APCO Framework, and reform of existing guidelines, will support clinical improvement initiatives, while also paving the way for a more holistic approach to osteoporosis care, and ultimately, greater consistency across all national and regional clinical practice guidelines in the region,” Dr Halbout said.

To download or access The APCO Framework, visit www.apcobonehealth.org/apco-framework.


  1. International Osteoporosis Foundation, The Asia-Pacific Regional Audit: Epidemiology, costs & burden of osteoporosis in 2013. 2013. p. 1-128.
  2. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners & Osteoporosis Australia, Osteoporosis prevention, diagnosis and management in postmenopausal women and men over 50 years of age. 2017.
  3. International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). Capture the fracture. [cited Jan, 2020]; Available from: https://www.capturethefracture.org/about.
  4. Madureira, M.M., R.M. Ciconelli, and R.M.R. Pereira, Quality of life measurements in patients with osteoporosis and fractures. Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 2012. 67(11): p. 1315-1320.
  5. National Osteoporosis Foundation, NOF's Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis.
  6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Musculoskeletal fact sheet. Osteoporosis. [cited Jan, 2020]; Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/61866386-568b-41fa-93e4-090ad201ab2b/phe187-osteoporosis-factsheet.pdf.aspx
  7. Odén, A., et al., Burden of high fracture probability worldwide: secular increases 2010-2040. Osteoporos Int, 2015. 26(9): p. 2243-8.

Image caption: ©stock.adobe.com/au/crevis

Related Articles

Clinical trials: the big shift is here

For too long now, clinical trials in Australia have taken place to significantly varied...

Nursing: 15 ways to boost engagement and retention

With the nursing shortage expected to worsen in the coming years, addressing retention and...

A Day in the Life: Leanne Northrop, an Aged Care Nurse Practitioner

Leanne Northrop is a Nurse Practitioner at Peninsula Villages, an aged-care facility on the...

  • All content Copyright © 2022 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd