Osteoporosis is the most common metabolic bone disease in the elderly affecting an estimated 25% of post-menopausal women in North America, and a major determinant of fracture occurrence. Patients suffering hip fractures are at high risk for death in the first year following their injury, and vertebral osteoporosis is a cause of substantial pain, loss of functional ability and psychosocial difficulty.

However, little is known about the dimensions of osteoporosis in Canada. Recent data from Sweden suggests that each hip fracture represents a total cost of $26 000 US, including :
- $6 000 initial hospital stay
- $12 000 rehabilitation
- $8 000 in aid from the social welfare system

The economic impact in Canada is thought to be similar, and researchers believe current costs will double during the next 30 years unless comprehensive programs for screening, prevention and treatment are started. To develop the programs needed to combat this major public health problem, more information about the population at risk, obtained through primary research, is needed.