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Introduction: Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone mass and decreased bone quality, leading to increased bone fragility and risk of fractures. The number of fractures due to osteoporosis is projected to increase to over three million by the year 2025 and cost $25.3 billion annually. It ranks highly among diseases that cause patients to become bedridden with serious complications and reduced quality of life. Additionally, osteoporosis disproportionately affects Hispanics, which comprise most of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) population. Therefore, our primary objective was to determine the prevalence of osteoporosis within the RGV. Additionally, we had secondary objectives to determine the screening rates of osteoporosis in the RGV and identify other potential risk factors associated with osteoporosis. We hypothesize that individuals residing in the RGV have higher rates of osteoporosis and lower rates of osteoporosis screening than the national average.

Methods: This retrospective observational cross-sectional study utilized Medicare beneficiary data via the "Mapping Medicare Disparities by Population" interactive tool. Osteoporosis data were compared within the RGV (comprising Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties) and compared with national averages between the years 2016 and 2021. Statistical analysis included prevalence ratios with 95% confidence intervals and chi-square values when applicable.

Results: Among Medicare beneficiaries residing in the RGV, there are higher rates of osteoporosis compared to the national average (11.5% vs. 7.20%; p < .00001). Screening for osteoporosis within the RGV is above the national average (9.29% vs. 6.67%, p < .00001). Hispanics residing in the RGV have higher overall rates of osteoporosis than Caucasians residing in the RGV (12.3% vs. 8.60%, p < .00001). Females residing in the RGV have nearly twice the rate of osteoporosis compared to the national average (19.1% vs. 11.8%, p < .00001) and 6.58 times the rate of males residing in the RGV (19.1% vs. 2.9%, p < .00001).

Conclusion: Individuals residing in the RGV are disproportionately affected by osteoporosis. Despite increased screening rates seen among Medicare beneficiaries, we also suspect many individuals, uninsured or undocumented, have not received any appropriate osteoporosis screening. Risk factors in the RGV associated with higher rates of osteoporosis could include low education levels, socioeconomic status, physical activity, and mineral intake. These results demonstrate a need to address osteoporosis health literacy, promote earlier interventions to treat osteoporosis and increase healthcare accessibility in the RGV.


© Copyright 2023 Bialaszewski et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CCBY 4.0., which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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medical student



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