Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology 2016. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US. OBJECTIVE: To compare the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and the functional ability by race in patients with gout.METHODS: In a 9-month prospective cohort multicentre study, patients with gout self-reported race, dichotomized as Caucasian or African American (others excluded). We calculated HRQOL/function scores adjusted for age, study site and college education for Short Form-36 (SF-36; generic HRQOL), Gout Impact Scale (GIS; disease-specific HRQOL) and HAQ-disability index (HAQ-DI; functional ability). Longitudinally adjusted scores were computed using multivariable mixed-effect regression models with a random patient effect and fixed sequential visit effect (3-monthly visits).RESULTS: Compared with Caucasians (n = 107), African Americans (n = 60) with gout were younger (61.1 vs 67.3 years) and had higher median baseline serum urate (9.0 vs 7.9 mg/dl) (P < 0.01). African Americans with gout had worse HRQOL scores on three SF-36 domains, the mental component summary (MCS) and two of the five GIS scales than Caucasians [mean (se); P ⩽ 0.02 for all]: SF-36 mental health, 39.7 (1.1) vs 45.2 (0.9); SF-36 role emotional, 42.1 (4.2) vs 51.4 (4.2); SF-36 social functioning, 36.0 (1.1) vs 40.0 (0.9) (P = 0.04); SF-36 MCS, 43.2 (3.1) vs 50.0 (3.2); GIS unmet treatment need, 37.6 (1.6) vs 31.5 (1.4); and GIS concern during attacks, 53.3 (3.7) vs 47.4 (3.7). Differences between the respective HAQ-DI total scores were not statistically significant; 0.98 (0.1) vs 0.80 (1.0) (P = 0.11). Racial differences in SF-36 mental health, role emotional and MCS scales exceeded, and for HAQ-DI approached, the minimal clinically important difference thresholds.CONCLUSIONS: African Americans with gout have significantly worse HRQOL compared with Caucasians. Further research is necessary in the form of studies targeted at African Americans on how best to improve these outcomes.