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Educate before you medicate

Educate before you medicate - Health literacy necessary for the prevention and early detection of gout

A report released online this week by the Ministry of Health indicates that building health literacy is necessary for better understanding, prevention and management of gout.

“The report highlights a lack of information about gout that is resulting in a range of persistent inaccurate beliefs about the condition – clearly we should educate before we medicate,” says Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia.

“For example there is a strong belief that the food we eat is the primary driver of gout – and this isn’t always true. For many people, especially many Māori and Pacific peoples, there is an inherited tendency to develop gout. There is also a great deal of confusion about how some medication can help manage gout and how some can help address the pain of a gout attack.”

“The report emphasises that health professionals, such as a general practitioners and pharmacists, have an opportunity to build health literacy with patients and their families and whānau so that people with gout can make decisions about how they manage and treat their condition.”

“Gout is a common form of acute arthritis caused by an excessive build-up of uric acid in the blood. The acid crystallises and results in joint inflammation. To understand the best way to treat this chronic condition and prevent the painful acute gout attacks requires good levels of health literacy.”

The report, which was prepared for the Ministry by Workbase Education Trust, builds on an earlier review of the suitability of publicly available information on the treatment of gout with medication. That review found that, from a health literacy perspective, resources were generally long, densely worded and difficult for people to navigate though. Resources were developed as part of the current project for use by health practitioners to help them engage with patients and their whānau about gout.

“ I expect the resources will also be useful for those at risk of developing gout and their families. In particular, one of these resources – called ‘To Stop Gout’ – features easy to read facts about what causes gout and which medications can help stop or reduce the pain of an attack. Some medications need to be taken long term,” says Mrs Turia.

For more information you can go to the Ministry of Health website (www.health.govt.nz). The report and its five associated resources are also available on the Workbase Education Trust website (www.healthliteracy.org.nz).


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