Most Patients with Gout Don't Know Their Serum Urate Goal

JANUARY 22, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
rheumatology, pain management, gout, arthritisHigh serum urate levels may indicate gout, yet most patients with this form of arthritis don’t know about a key component of their condition.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) conducted a study through the Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System to learn more about how much patients with gout know about their condition.

For the study, a total of 612 patients with gout filled out questionnaires focused on gout-specific knowledge questions, health outcomes, and the Patient Activation Measure. Each of the patients had at least one allopurinol prescription (which helps lower uric acid levels) for one year.

“We found that there’s a real gap in patients’ understanding of our treatment goal in gout,” senior author Ted Mikuls, MD, a professor of rheumatology at UNMC, said in a news release. The bad news is that only 14% of patients knew their serum urate goal, according to the report in Arthritis Care & Research. But the good news is that the vast majority of patients were able to answer the other five questions about the cause, treatment, and status of their gout.

So why are patients uncertain about this one particular goal?

“It’s very well understood that there are targets for uric acid that should be reached to treat people effectively. I think physicians probably know the goal, but it’s not being clearly communicated at least in a fashion patients can recall,” Mikuls continued.

Those who knew the answers to the other gout questions were more likely to know their serum urate goal. In addition, knowledge of serum urate goal was linked to self-reported global health status. However, it was not associated with self-reported health-related quality of life or gout-specific health status.

“If patients don’t know the goal of therapy, it’s very hard for patients to be engaged in their care,” Mikuls said, making an important point for why patients need to be aware of all aspects of their condition.

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