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Keywords:

  • drug treatment;
  • education;
  • epidemiology;
  • osteoporosis;
  • rehabilitation

Abstract

Objective:  To determine the impact of awareness-raising strategies of calcium and vitamin D supplements in the active management of bone health of older people living in nursing care facilities in Australia.

Design:  We compared data drawn from two prospective cohort studies that have evaluated falls and fractures in older people living in hostels (intermediate care facilities): the FREE study (conducted from 1996–2002, n = 1107) and the ongoing FREEDOM study (commenced in 2006, n = 1284 screened individuals). Both studies recruited older people living in a large number of nursing care facilities in northern Sydney (Australia).

Results:  We found a small but significant increase in both calcium and vitamin D supplementation in the FREEDOM study participants compared to those in the FREE study. Calcium alone increased from 6.2% to 10.5% (P = 0.0002), vitamin D alone from 5.8% to 7.9% (P = 0.04) and the combined use of calcium and vitamin D increased from 1.6% to 11.9% (P < 0.0001).

Conclusion:  There appears to be increasing awareness of the need for calcium and vitamin D supplementation in older people in nursing care facilities. However, given the high prevalence of osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency among this population, the levels of supplementation achieved must still be considered suboptimal for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and falls.