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Reports Call for More Gout Education

May 18, 2016 1:02 pm

Two recent surveys show that gout patients are often uninformed, undertreated, improperly monitored and frequently stigmatized by their gout.

The Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) has done an online survey of 1000 Americans and 103 gout patients and shown that nearly 90% of patients view gout as a "major inconvenience" and worrisome.

Although 90% view gout as a serious health issue, they found far fewer taking steps to prioritize their treatment. More than half of gout patients admitted that treating their gout is not a priority, only half visit their physician regularly, and just one in three maintains a healthy fitness level.  

Equally concerning is that only 27% had their uric acid levels tested within the past six months. Only 40% were receiving uric acid-lowering medications, and an equal amount incorrectly believe that they only need to take medications when they are having a flare. 

Despite the prevalence of gout (8.3 million Americans), the survey found that 71% of Americans and 55% of gout patients don't even think of gout as being a type of arthritis.

In addition to a general lack of understanding of what gout is and can do to the body, the survey confirmed that a stigma exists when it comes to addressing gout. More than half of gout sufferers surveyed (52 percent) say they are embarrassed to have it, and nearly half (46 percent) believe it's their fault that they have it.

Another recent report in Arthritis Care and Research reviewed depictions of gout in the 21 highest circulation newspapers in the United Kingdom and United States between 2010 and 2015.  (Citation source 

Social embarrassment due to gout was reported in 27 of 114 (23.7%). Jokes or humorous references to gout were reported in 30 of the 114 articles (26.3%). In addition, dietary solutions were over-emphasized compared with effective medication.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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