Understanding Patient Capacity to Adhere to Prescribed Treatment Regime Post-Fracture

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Western Health
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr. Sharon Brennan sbrennan@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Project Details

In 2012, 4.74 million Australians aged 50yrs or older (66% of those aged ≥50yrs) had poor bone health (22% osteoporosis, 78% osteopenia).  Osteoporosis is characterised by low density and quality of bone, with a subsequent increased risk of fracture; currently one fracture occurs every 3.6 minutes. Data show that socially disadvantaged individuals have a disproportionately greater risk of osteoporosis and fracture compared to their less disadvantaged counterparts. Whilst current efforts are aimed at making ‘the first fracture the last fracture’, persistence with a prescribed treatment regime is imperative for effective prevention of secondary fracture. However, it is concerning that treatment adherence is only 43-53% for osteoporosis, a figure that is much lower compared to other diseases. Furthermore, persistence with a prescribed treatment appears strongly influenced by a patient’s ability to seek, understand and utilize health information; aspects referred to as ‘health literacy’. Estimates indicate that up to a quarter of the Australian population has suboptimal health literacy, and this is more commonly observed in individuals who are older, socially disadvantaged, or from culturally and/or linguistically diverse populations. To date, very little is known regarding the effect size of low health literacy on a patients’ ability to persist with medication post-fracture. This project will recruit a new cohort of fracture patients from the Western suburbs of Melbourne: an area that is one of the most socially disadvantaged and culturally diverse within Victoria. Health literacy at the time of fracture will be determined, and the roles played by health literacy and social disadvantage in the ability to adhere with prescribed treatment regime over time will be investigated. By understanding situational and personal determinants of health literacy specific to osteoporotic fracture and treatment adherence, we will be better placed to improve healthcare provision and inform effective patient-practitioner alliances.

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Western Health

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.