Objectives To describe trends in the epidemiology of gout and patterns of urate-lowering treatment (ULT) in the UK general population from 1997 to 2012.
Methods We used the Clinical Practice Research Datalink to estimate the prevalence and incidence of gout for each calendar year from 1997 to 2012. We also investigated the pattern of gout management for both prevalent and incident gout patients.
Results In 2012, the prevalence of gout was 2.49% (95% CI 2.48% to 2.51%) and the incidence was 1.77 (95% CI 1.73 to 1.81) per 1000 person-years. Prevalence and incidence both were significantly higher in 2012 than in 1997, with a 63.9% increase in prevalence and 29.6% increase in incidence over this period. Regions with highest prevalence and incidence were the North East and Wales. Among prevalent gout patients in 2012, only 48.48% (95% CI 48.08% to 48.89%) were being consulted specifically for gout or treated with ULT and of these 37.63% (95% CI 37.28% to 38.99%) received ULT. In addition, only 18.6% (95% CI 17.6% to 19.6%) of incident gout patients received ULT within 6 months and 27.3% (95% CI 26.1% to 28.5%) within 12 months of diagnosis. The management of prevalent and incident gout patients remained essentially the same during the study period, although the percentage of adherent patients improved from 28.28% (95% CI 27.33% to 29.26%) in 1997 to 39.66% (95% CI 39.11% to 40.22%) in 2012.
Conclusions In recent years, both the prevalence and incidence of gout have increased significantly in the UK. Suboptimal use of ULT has not changed between 1997 and 2012. Patient adherence has improved during the study period, but it remains poor.
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