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In this week’s news roundup from Rheumatology Network we continue our series on gout. Last week we featured a discussion with Dr. John D. Fitzgerald focusing on ACR’s new gout treatment guidelines and this week, we talk with Dr. Christopher Parker, chief of rheumatology at Austin Diagnostic Clinic in Texas. Dr. Parker addresses mythbusters and patient engagement.

Dr. Parker also serves as the lead rheumatologist for the Alliance for Gout Awareness-a nonprofit profit organization that serves as an information source for gout patients. Years ago, he and patient Gary Ho, identified a need for trustworthy medical information about gout and they launched “The Gout Support Group of America” on Facebook. They quickly amassed thousands of followers and the group eventually became the Alliance.

“We’re here to provide good, trustworthy information for patients. There is lots of false information out there. While the information age is great, there are all kinds of charlatans out there trying to sell some kind of cocktail or snake oil. So, we’re here to provide good trustworthy information to patients,” he said.

“Gary and I started this because he suffered from and struggled with gout for decades before he ever got to a rheumatologist and got his condition under control. He was like, ‘Gosh, I was told so much false information. I had every family member and friend tell me X, Y, Z,” he said.

Even today, with a number of clinically proven treatments available for gout, patients can still get stuck in a pit of false information that may discourage them from seeking medical treatment. Too few patients are under the care of a medical professional. And, gout, has a high rate of noncompliance among patients.

“We’re trying to solve that through education,” Dr. Parker said. He’s found that among the most powerful voices in the fight against misinformation among gout patients, is other patients like Gary Ho. “Listening to a doctor isn’t as nearly as [convincing] as listening to a patient who has walked in their shoes. As a patient, they know how bad it can get.”

Clinical trials for approved treatments, such as allopurinol and lesinurad, and treatment guidelines by the American College of Rheumatology, have eliminated the guess work in coming up with solid treatment plan. “And, so, the downstream affect is that you can manage this thing and stop flares so that you can get your quality of life back, which is the ultimate goal,” he said.

Prior to the publication of clinical trials data for gout treatments, most physicians were under the impression that treatment primarily centered on diet, which is a theory that has since largely been debunked.

“The fact of the matter is, trying to make diet do all of the work to resolve gout is almost never successful. You’re never going to follow a diet plan [in its entirety], so getting new medicines that have come to market, combined with a diet plan [is best]. It’s not that we’re disregarding diet, it’s that we’re wanting everything to work together to achieve that good outcome.

“To all of those patients out there who suffer from gout, this thing is manageable. You can get a hold of this thing and not make it flare up anymore. That’s important to remember. This is doable. You manage gout or gout will manage you,” Dr. Parker said.