The multidisciplinary approach to the prevention of Bisphosphonate Related Osteonecrosis Of The Jaw (BRONJ) – a qualitative study into the attitudes and perceptions of patients

Evaluating the attitudes of patients towards risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw, minimising this risk and the prevention of this disease.

Andrew Sturrock, University of Sunderland

This project is funded through the UKCPA-PRUK Clinical Pharmacy Grant.

A group of drugs called bisphosphonates are used to treat a number of conditions that effect bones, such as osteoporosis and certain cancers. Because we are living longer, more patients are being prescribed these drugs than ever before and a rare but important side effect, called osteonecrosis of the jaw, has been discovered.

This side effect causes problems with patient’s jawbones, particularly if patients require a dental extraction. This unpleasant and painful condition which is characterised by exposure of necrotic bone, can be very difficult to treat and usually requires surgery to cut away part of the jawbone. Due to the difficulty in treating this condition, healthcare professionals should try to prevent it from happening in the first place.

We should be discussing this risk with patients and advising that they get a dental check-up before and during bisphosphonate treatment. Current evidence suggests that this does not happen, patients are unaware of the problem and knowledge of this risk is poor amongst patients and healthcare professionals.

This study is designed to look at the attitudes of patients towards this risk, the ways in which we can minimise this risk and how we can work better as a team to prevent it from occurring. To do this the research team will carry out a number of in depth interviews with patients to explore their perspectives. The interviews will be anonymised, transcribed and analysed to identify themes. These themes will then be discussed back with some of the original participants in a focus group, giving the opportunity for the participants to comment further on the themes identified in the study.

The results of this project may help with the development of services that can reduce the risk of patients experiencing osteonecrosis of the jaw and to gain an understanding of the role of each healthcare professional in the management of this condition.

This project is due to start in January 2017 and will continue until January 2018.

See the detailed project description for more information.