Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Osteoporosis is a major health problem. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reports national rates of osteoporosis at 13-18% of women and 3-6% of men over age 50, but current evidence suggests that osteoporosis rates in Alaska are more equal between sexes. Known risk factors for osteoporosis that are very common among Alaskans include arthritis and low vitamin D and calcium levels. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans of the hip and lumbar spine as the gold standard of screening for osteoporosis; however, DXA scans are expensive, not portable, and not practical for screening small populations. Calcaneal heel ultrasound (CHU) scans are a USPSTF-recognized alternative to the DXA scan and can reach these small populations. Guided by the PRECEDE-PROCEED model, this project sought to evaluate the effectiveness of offering CHU scans at health fairs in Alaska. The de-identified data from the CHU dataset (N = 494) were analyzed to determine any differences in bone health based on sex and age. Alaskans over 50 years of age were significantly more likely to have osteopenia or osteoporosis (X2 = 28.2, df =4) than those < 50 years old. No significant difference in bone health as determined by T-scores was noted between men and women, suggesting that Alaskan men should also be screened. Educational materials on bone health were readily available at the health fairs for anyone interested. Health fair attendees are routinely asked for feedback and their responses related to the CHU scan were summarized and were unanimously positive. This project contributes to positive social change by increasing awareness of osteoporosis in Alaskans.