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Gout, if left untreated, can lead to flares that can increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety.
Joseph Coe, MPA, Director of Education and Digital Strategy at Global Healthy Living Foundation, discusses his American College of Rheumatology Convergence 2022 presentation “Real-World Evidence from Social Media Provides Insights into Patient Mental Health Outcomes in the Management of Gout.” Coe and his team used artificial intelligence (AI) to provide insights into mental health outcomes in patients with gout.
“I'm not a classically trained researcher,” Coe explained. “And one of the great things that the Global Healthy Living Foundation does with our research is that we provide different stakeholders the ability to engage in research and the dissemination of it. With this study in particular, I was able to leverage the background that I have in digital strategy and social media.”
Coe and his team chose to focus on gout as they realized there was a large opportunity to better understand a historically misunderstood disease. A machine learning program was utilized to detect common phrases and language that patients were using, both in private and public Facebook groups. They then investigated ways in which they could use that information to help patients with gout feet better.
“We found that gout patients, not to our surprise, struggled with mental health issues and that they were talking about that,” Coe stated. “We hypothesize that there are a few reasons why depression and anxiety with gout overlap. One possibility is that pain from gout can lead to emotional distress. Additionally, we've seen through this research, and through our work with CreakyJoints, that if gout that's left untreated it can cause tremendous flares can increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety.”