Background: Hip fractures in the elderly are a major public health burden. Data concerning secular trends of hip fracture incidence show divergent results for age, sex and regions. In Austria, the hip fracture incidence in the elderly population and trends have not been analysed yet. Methods: Hip fractures in the population of 50 years and above were identified from 1994 to 2006 using the national hospital discharge register. Crude incidences (IR) per 100,000 person years and standardised incidences related to the European population 2006 were analysed. Estimate of age-sex-adjusted changes was determined using Poisson regression (incidence rate ratios, IRRs). Results: The number of hospital admissions due to hip fracture increased from a total number of 11,694 in 1994 to 15,987 in 2006. Crude incidences rates (IR) per 100.000 for men increased from 244.3 (95% confidence interval (CI) 234.8 to 253.7) in 1994 to IR 330.8 (95% CI 320.8 to 340.9) in 2006 and for women from 637.3 (95% CI 624.2 to 650.4) in 1994 to IR 758.7 (95% CI 745.0 to 772.4) in 2006. After adjustment for age and sex the annual hip fracture incidence increase was only small but statistically significant (IRR per year 1.01, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.01, p < 0.01). Change of IRR over the 12 years study period was 13%. It was significantly higher for men (IRR over 12 years 1.21, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.27) than for women (IRR over 12 years 1.10, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.14) (interaction: p = 0.03). Conclusion: In contrast to findings in other countries there is no levelling-off or downward trend of hip fracture incidence from 1994 to 2006 in the Austrian elderly population. Further investigations should aim to evaluate the underlying causes in order to plan effective hip fracture reduction programmes.
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