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BACKGROUND: An important aspect of the economics of fracture prevention is averted fracture costs. However, while vertebral fractures represent a significant burden to society, quantifying their cost is difficult for several reasons. In this paper, we examine the health care costs of symptomatic vertebral fractures occurring in women aged 50 years and above in the UK. METHODS: We used a variety of data sources. The prevalence of pharmaceutical treatment for fracture prevention and number of general practitioner consultations, referrals, and hospital admissions associated with a diagnosis of vertebral fracture were identified from a case control study. For the unit cost of a general practitioner consultation, referral, and cost per inpatient day, we used 2002 data produced by the Personal Social Services Research Unit. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) for 2001-2002 were used to estimate the median length of stay in hospital for women aged 50 years and above, and the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities (MIMS) was used to identify the costs of pharmaceutical treatments. Costs were discounted at 6%. RESULTS: From these data, we estimated that for the year prior and post diagnosis the average additional health care costs for those diagnosed with vertebral fracture were pounds 165, pounds 134, and pounds 2314 for general practitioner consultations, referrals, and hospital admissions, respectively (i.e., pounds 2613). The cost of pharmaceutical treatments prescribed for fracture prevention in the year following diagnosis was pound 97. DISCUSSION: Vertebral fractures are associated with significantly increased health care costs. These costs need to be set against the costs of fracture prevention.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





383 - 386


Aged, Case-Control Studies, Female, Health Care Costs, Humans, Middle Aged, Spinal Fractures, United Kingdom