Study Shows Majority of Gout Patients Unaware of Treatment Goals
A new study has highlighted a possible knowledge-gap between health care providers and gout patients, concerning their condition. That's according to the findings of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska and the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System.
Researchers analyzed questionnaire results of 612 gout patients at the Nebraska Veterans Affairs center. The focus of the questionnaire centered on patient knowledge. All participants had at least one allopurinol prescription for over a one-year period and their answers were assessed descriptively.
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Results found that only 14% of total respondents (379) knew what their serum urate (SU) goal was. Aiming to achieve a certain serum urate goal — a healthy level of uric acid — is central to treating gout effectively. The remarkableness of only 14% of respondents knowing their serum urate goal is compounded by the knowledge respondents demonstrated to possess in other gout-specific questions; which the vast majority of respondents answered questions correctly. Knowing the other 5 gout-specific knowledge questions and having a rheumatologist as the initial prescriber were associated with greater odds of knowing serum urate goal.
"I think what was striking was most patients knew what causes gout, how it is treated, and what was going on with their disease, but they did not know what their level of uric acid should be. To us that's compelling,” said senior author of the paper Ted Mikuls, MD, MSPH.
The authors hope the study's results can stimulate conversation between physicians and patients that will lead to an improved quality of care.
“It's [the serum urate goal] not being clearly communicated at least in a fashion patients can recall. If patients don't know the goal of therapy, it's very hard for patients to be engaged in their care," said Dr. Mikuls.
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