Leading gout experts have suggested the condition may need a new name after their analysis found popular newspapers were still pedalling common gout myths.
The analysis of coverage from newspapers in the UK and US over a five-year period found the condition was commonly portrayed as a self-inflicted condition caused by living life in excess.
Overall 72 articles from the 114 reviewed reported overindulgence of dietary factors as the most common cause of gout.
Serum urate monitoring or treatment targets were rarely reported, yet jokes or humorous references to gout were reported in 30 of the articles.
According to the authors led by Nicola Dalbeth from the University of Auckland the analysis highlights the differences between lay and medical knowledge of gout.
“In contrast to the depictions of gout in popular newspapers, research in the last two decades has demonstrated that gout has a strong biological basis, with renal urate handling playing a central role,” they wrote in Arthritis Care & Research.
“Scientific advances demonstrating the central role of renal urate transport have failed to penetrate into popular perceptions of disease”.
The research highlighted a need to disseminate a more accurate picture of gout as an illness caused by biological factors.
“This may require revised nomenclature of the disease away from the historical term ‘gout’ to a new term such as monosodium urate arthropathy,” the authors suggested.