Jemima and Chinar Present at International Conference

11 Dec 2013

Two of our Sixth Formers were asked to speak about their study into osteoporosis at an international conference held in Berlin. Here, they explain what they found:

How well do you know your bones?

Peak bone density is reached by women by the age of 30. This means that at an age between 25 and 30 our bones have obtained maximum calcium they ever can for the rest of our lives. A low peak bone density therefore increases the chances of osteoporosis affecting a person later on in life. The only way to increase the peak bone mass is to increase calcium intake and participate in weight bearing exercise such as running and skipping. In teenagers this only means that we have around 10 to 15 years left to acquire this calcium. It is important therefore that teenagers are aware of this. We wanted to find whether teenagers really did know this. Our study on Year 11 pupils was to test their awareness of osteoporosis.

We provided all the willing subjects with an initial questionnaire to test their baseline knowledge of osteoporosis. This was then followed by an educational intervention from both of us on osteoporosis and the preventive measures that should be taken. We then gave all the subjects a further questionnaire to test their knowledge of osteoporosis following the educational intervention.

The results showed that in the very beginning the pupils had a very low understanding of osteoporosis with over 40% of the students being unaware of the meaning of osteoporosis. The initial average score was 3.72 out of 9 which then increased to 8.92 following the educational intervention.

This study established that many teenagers were unaware of osteoporosis and indirectly it showed that governmental organisations and NGO’s were not doing enough to increase the awareness of osteoporosis among teenagers. To highlight this lacuna we submitted our results to the Fragility Fracture Network for consideration of presentation in their meeting. To our amazement and delight our paper was accepted and they invited us to present our study in the international Fragility Fracture Network Conference in Berlin in August 2013.

Presenting our findings to leading professionals in the world of osteoporosis was an amazing experience. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we gained a lot from it.

We would like to thank all our classmates who happened to be the study participants, the teachers for supporting us throughout our work and especially Mrs Wadsworth and Mrs. Robinson who provided us with both guidance and ethical approval.

Jemima George and Chinar Parikh