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current therap Osteoporosis on the Internet

Drs George Phillipov and Patrick J Phillips
Endocrinology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The number and quality of osteoporosis-related Internet sites has been steadily increasing during the past several years, and now have much to offer for Australians health professional as well as their patients. This article focusses on several of the larger osteoporosis sites which provide a wide range of information and guidelines. To simplify access to the sites reviewed, the text of this article has been reproduced on our own Osteoporosis Centre web site so that you may access the mentioned sites directly, without having to type in the addresses.

Medscape, is one of several organisations that specialises in medical information for physicians. To gain access registration is required, but this is free and quite painless. Medscape provides, amongst other information, two substantial online osteoporosis texts. The first, Osteoporosis: Prevention, Diagnosis and Management written by Morris Notelovitz, is extremely comprehensive and spans 12 chapters! The second, Osteoporosis: Assessing and Using Risk Factors for Fracture by Michael R. McClung, focusses on bone density testing, interpretation of results and their application.

An impressive site is the Osteoporosis & Bone Diseases Center maintained as part of the Colorado HealthNet site. Excellent use is made of allied sites to allow the most important issues and facts on osteoporosis to be accessed. A novel feature is the opportunity afforded visitors to submit a question on bone diseases - osteoporosis, bone densitometry, hyperparathyroidism, Paget's Disease, osteomalacia - directly to experienced Colorado physicians. This interaction then leads to the quite informative Questions & Answers section, covering both general issues and osteoporosis medication.

Physicians interested in the latest "Medical News and Alerts" relating to osteoporosis as well as detailed "Osteoporosis Information" should visit the Doctor's Guide to Osteoporosis Information & Resources. Alternatively the University of Florida College of Medicine provides an excellent continuing medical education module - Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis: Key Issues, written by Simon Kipersztok.

The site at Osteovision delivers information specifically for scientists and physicians interested in the field of bone and calcium metabolism. Among the unique data is an Address database containing more than 16,500 addresses of people in the field, details of future meetings, and two slide collections (prepared by the Health Council on Osteoporosis and Merck Sharp & Dohme). Abstracts from articles published in the international research journal "Bone" are made available approximately one month prior and remain on-line for three months following publication. Full online access is also available to "Advances in Osteoporosis" a quarterly journal containing abstracts and critical analysis of the world literature in Osteoporosis (ed Ego Seeman).

Two web sites, Osteoporosis Prevention and Research Center and the Endocrine Metabolic Consultants have an osteoporosis 'risk assessment' based on a simple point score quiz, where the individual calculates their own score. The short questionnaire can be printed out as an informative and instructive handout for patients.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation is a non-profit international organization located in Berne, Switzerland, comprising a committee of 74 national societies representing 46 countries. At the IOF web site you can find a register of IOF supported publications, European and national osteoporosis guidelines/consensus statements as well as national information for the general public and healthcare professionals. Equivalent American based sites can be found at the National Institutes of Health - Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center and the National Osteoporosis Foundation. The NOF is America's leading resource for people seeking up-to-date, professionally verified information on the causes, prevention, detection and treatment of osteoporosis.

Within Australia there are as yet relatively few pertinent sites. Our own site, Osteoporosis Centre covers a wide range of topics and reproduces the relevant sections from the Medicare Benefits Schedule book on reimbursement for bone densitometry. The Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis Consensus Statement from the Australian National Consensus Conference 1996, published as a Supplement to the 7 July issue of the Medical Journal of Australia (1997; 167: S1-S15) is now available online. Osteoporosis Australia is a consumer organisation providing a range of services, products and activities as well as establishing support groups for people with osteoporosis.

In summary, the Internet at present covers a quite wide range of topics, and in considerable detail, where osteoporosis is concerned. The quality of information at the relevant sites is of a very high standard.

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