USBJD makes it easy to promote good bone health
“I have lost track of how many times I have given this presentation!” said Kimberly J. Templeton, MD, referring to the dozens of educational sessions she has led as part of the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade’s (USBJD) “Fit to a T” program.
Dr. Templeton, president-elect of the USBJD, is a firm believer in the effectiveness of the 1-hour, interactive sessions that provide audience members with crucial strategies for maintaining good bone health and avoiding devastating low-impact fractures. She recently spoke with AAOS Now about the program.
AAOS Now: What was the catalyst for “Fit to a T”?
Dr. Templeton: The Surgeon General’s report on bone health and osteoporosis, released in October 2004, highlighted the need for public and professional education in this area. It served as a “call to action” to encourage the USBJD and other interested groups to increase their focus on promoting bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
AAOS Now: What are the key messages and goals of the program?
Dr. Templeton: Osteoporosis and other bone diseases are debilitating and can severely limit mobility and independence. Everyone is at risk for osteoporosis—including men and women of all races and ages—but the condition is not inevitable. In fact, osteoporosis is preventable to a degree.
Another key message is that lifestyle changes that affect other organ systems, such as the cardiovascular system, can improve bone health. Because bone health affects overall health and quality of life, people should be just as concerned about their bone health as they are about other health issues.
During the program, participants gain a greater understanding of bone health and their personal risk factors for osteoporosis so they can then discuss these issues with their primary care physicians and, ideally, develop an action plan to improve their bone health and decrease their risk of fracture. We also discuss how to locate quality consumer health information and encourage participants to discuss these issues with family, friends, and colleagues.
AAOS Now: The program is named for the “T-score.” What is it, and why should people know about it?
Dr. Templeton: The “T-score” is the measure of a person’s bone density and estimates his or her susceptibility for low-impact fracture. A T-score is determined by a bone density test—a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. We don’t recommend that everyone who attends these sessions get a DEXA scan, but we use the T-score to explain the concept of how bone health and bone density are connected in a way that is similar to how cholesterol and blood pressure are connected to heart health.
AAOS Now: Are any resources available for presenters and organizers?
Dr. Templeton: The USBJD has presenter guidelines, a slide presentation, speaker’s notes, and links to online resources. Organizers can take advantage of a template for promotional flyers and/or posters, and bookmarks that can be used to promote the session. The USBJD can also supply promotional t-shirts.
Resources for attendees include the “Fit to a T” booklet (Fig. 1), which contains a risk-assessment questionnaire, resource list, and bibliography; a CD-ROM of the Surgeon General’s report; and copies of The 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Osteoporosis and Bone Health: What it Means to You, a summary for the public, in English, Spanish, or Chinese.
AAOS Now: Who is the target audience and where are these presentations usually held?
Dr. Templeton: The target audience is primarily people older than 40 years who are concerned about their bone health, as well as those who are at risk for osteoporosis or have already had a fracture. Attendees may also be people with aging parents who are at risk for or have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Some attendees are parents who want to learn how to help their children maintain good bone health.
I have presented to groups ranging from 10 to 100 people at venues such as libraries, local businesses, patient advocacy groups, and local health fairs.
AAOS Now: Is the material adaptable to specific audiences?
Dr. Templeton: I have adapted the material for an all-male audience, a group of older adults, an African-American audience, a group of younger people with rheumatoid arthritis, and a group of young survivors of breast cancer. The session has also been culturally and literally translated for a Hispanic audience.
AAOS Now: Does the program ever include presenters other than the medical expert?
Dr. Templeton: A health information specialist/librarian can demonstrate how to find credible online resources about bone health and osteoporosis. I and other presenters have been joined by a physician colleague or a patient willing to share his or her experience with osteoporosis.
AAOS Now: What are the most beneficial aspects of the session for attendees? What are their “take-aways”?
Dr. Templeton: I think attendees learn a great deal. It really resonates with the audience when we explain how easy it is to sustain a fracture, even during normal activities, when one has osteoporosis. The fact that osteoporosis-related fractures can be life-altering, as well as life-threatening, also makes a significant impression.
“Fit to a T” is somewhat different than other bone health and osteoporosis programs because we make the information personal by asking people to examine their own risk factors and what they can change in their lives and encourage them to be proactive in talking to their healthcare providers. Attendees leave knowing that bone health is important, that fractures can dramatically impact their quality of life, and that osteoporosis can be treated and prevented to some degree.
AAOS Now: How can AAOS members learn more about leading a “Fit to a T” session?
Jennie McKee is a staff writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org