Open Access Open Badges Research article

Patients’ knowledge and beliefs concerning gout and its treatment: a population based study

Leslie R Harrold12345*, Kathleen M Mazor1234, Daniel Peterson1234, Nausheen Naz2, Cassandra Firneno1234 and Robert A Yood3

Author Affiliations

1 Meyers Primary Care Institute, Worcester, MA, USA

2 University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA

3 Reliant Medical Group, Worcester, MA, USA

4 Fallon Community Health Plan, Worcester, MA, USA

5 Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Biotech 4, Suite 315, 377 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:180  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-180

Published: 21 September 2012



For patients to effectively manage gout, they need to be aware of the impact of diet, alcohol use, and medications on their condition. We sought to examine patients’ knowledge and beliefs concerning gout and its treatment in order to identify barriers to optimal patient self-management.


We identified patients (≥18 years of age) cared for in the setting of a multispecialty group practice with documentation of at least one health care encounter associated with a gout diagnosis during the period 2008–2009 (n = 1346). Patients were sent a questionnaire assessing knowledge with regard to gout, beliefs about prescription medications used to treat gout, and trust in the physician. Administrative electronic health records were used to identify prescription drug use and health care utilization.


Two hundred and forty patients returned surveys out of the 500 contacted for participation. Most were male (80%), white (94%), and aged 65 and older (66%). Only 14 (6%) patients were treated by a rheumatologist. Only a minority of patients were aware of common foods known to trigger gout (e.g., seafood [23%], beef [22%], pork [7%], and beer [43%]). Of those receiving a urate-lowering medication, only 12% were aware of the short-term risks of worsening gout with initiation. These deficits were more common in those with active as compared to inactive gout.


Knowledge deficits about dietary triggers and chronic medications were common, but worse in those with active gout. More attention is needed on patient education on gout and self-management training.

Beliefs; Treatment; Gout; Dietary influence; Physician-patient communication