Perspectives of patients with depression and chronic pain about bone health after a fragility fracture: a qualitative study

Publication type
Journal article
Sale JEM, Gignac MA, Frankel L, Thielke S, Bogoch E, Elliot-Gibson V, Hawker G, Funnell L
Date published
2022 Jan 01
Health Expectations
Open Access?

Background: Compromised bone health is often associated with depression and chronic pain. Objective: To examine: (1) the experience of existing depression and chronic nonfracture pain in patients with a fragility fracture; and (2) the effects of the fracture on depression and pain. Design: A phenomenological study guided by Giorgi's analytical procedures. Setting and participants: Fracture patients who reported taking prescription medication for one or more comorbidities, excluding compromised bone health. Main variables studied: Patients were interviewed within 6 weeks of their fracture, and 1 year later. Interview questions addressed the recent fracture and patients' experience with bone health and their other health conditions, such as depression and chronic pain, including the medications taken for these conditions. Results: Twenty-six patients (5 men, 21 women) aged 45-84 years old with hip (n = 5) and nonhip (n = 21) fractures were recruited. Twenty-one participants reported depression and/or chronic nonfracture pain, of which seven reported having both depression and chronic pain. Two themes were consistent, based on our analysis: (1) depression and chronic pain overshadowed attention to bone health; and (2) the fracture exacerbated reported experiences of existing depression and chronic pain. Conclusion: Experiences with depression and pain take priority over bone health and may worsen as a result of the fracture. Health care providers treating fragility fractures might ask patients about depression and pain and take appropriate steps to address patients' more general emotional and physical state. Patient contribution: A patient representative was involved in the study conception, data interpretation and manuscript writing.