Gout Patients Identify the Most Important Factors of Their Condition

Gout flares can start abruptly and last for days or weeks at a time, the symptoms of which include intense pain, swelling, redness, and heat in the joints. Primarily affecting the big toe, gout flares can also occur in lesser toe joints, the ankle, or the knee. Pain intensity, the duration and frequency, and potential disabilities associated with gout flares contribute to the negative experiences of patients with gout. However, it is unknown which of these factors are most important to patients when considering flare burden over time.

In order to understand which flare attributes are the most and least important to the patient experience of flare burden over time, researchers conducted a study focused on gout patients and their experiences with gout flares. The study was published in The Journal of Rheumatology.

Fifty patients with gout completed an anonymous online survey. The questions intended to identify which attributes of gout flares were the most and least important over a hypothetical 6-month period. A best-worst scaling method, a survey method for assessing individuals’ priorities, was employed to determine the hierarchy of the included attributes.

The respondents of the survey noted that difficulty doing usual activities of daily living during the worst flare and pain of the worst flare were ranked as the most important factors related to the impact of gout flares. The questions represented both individual and cumulative flare burden. Conversely, survey respondents considered average pain of all flares as the least important factor. Overall, factors relating to the single worst gout flare were considered more important than factors relating to the cumulative impact of all flares.

The authors of the study remarked that, “When thinking about the burden of gout flares over time, patients rank activity limitation and pain experienced during their worst gout flare as the most important contributing factors, whereas factors related to the cumulative impact of all flares over time are relatively less important.”