Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Medical cannabis is increasingly considered for palliation of pain, nausea/vomiting, anorexia, and other symptoms. We aimed to determine whether training in hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) adequately prepares fellows to counsel patients about medical cannabis.

METHODS: A previously validated questionnaire was adapted for HPM fellows. Domains included fellows' practices recommending cannabis and their knowledge of its effectiveness and risks compared with standard treatments. U.S. HPM fellowships were sent surveys in 2022 and 2023.

RESULTS: 46 programs participated, 123 fellows responded (response rate of 42%) including 69% female; 55% White, and 28% Asian. Of respondents, 65% reported receiving formal training regarding medical cannabis; 57% reported discussing medical cannabis with over five patients; 23% recommended medical cannabis to more than five patients in the preceding year. Only 19%, however, felt sufficiently informed to issue cannabis-related recommendations. HPM fellows with prior training were not more likely to feel sufficiently informed to discuss cannabis (RR: 1.17; 95% CI: 0.82-1.66) or to recommend cannabis to patients (RR: 2.05, 95% CI: 0.89-4.71). Fellows rate cannabis as equally or more effective than conventional treatments for the following symptoms: anorexia/cachexia (63%), nausea/vomiting (43%), pain (25%), and neuropathic pain (21%).

DISCUSSION: Most HPM fellows report formal training in the use of medical cannabis. Over half of trainees reported discussing medical cannabis with patients, but few considered themselves sufficiently informed to make cannabis-related clinical recommendations. These results suggest both a need for expanded high-quality evidence for medical cannabis in palliative care and for improved formal education for HPM fellows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-477.e6
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume67
Issue number6
Early online dateJan 27 2024
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Marijuana/therapeutic use
  • Palliative Care/methods
  • Palliative Medicine/education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States

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