INTRODUCTION: Over recent years, there has been concerted effort to 'close the gap' in the disproportionately reduced life expectancy and increased morbidity experienced by indigenous compared to non-indigenous persons. Specific to musculoskeletal health, some data suggest that indigenous peoples have a higher risk of sustaining a fracture compared to non-indigenous peoples. This creates an imperative to identify factors that could explain differences in fracture rates. This protocol presents our aim to conduct a systematic review, first, to determine whether differences in fracture rates exist for indigenous versus non-indigenous persons and, second, to identify any risk factors that might explain these differences.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a systematic search of PubMed, OVID, MEDLINE, CINAHL and EMBASE to identify articles that compare all-cause fracture rates at any skeletal site between indigenous and non-indigenous persons of any age. Eligibility of studies will be determined by 2 independent reviewers. Studies will be assessed for methodological quality using a previously published process. We will conduct a meta-analysis and use established statistical methods to identify and control for heterogeneity where appropriate. Should heterogeneity prevents numerical syntheses, we will undertake a best-evidence analysis to determine the level of evidence for differences in fracture between indigenous and non-indigenous persons.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This systematic review will use published data; thus, ethical permissions are not required. In addition to peer-reviewed publication, findings will be presented at (inter)national conferences, disseminated electronically and in print, and will be made available to key country-specific decision-makers with authority for indigenous health.