Posted on May 14, 2018, 1 p.m.
Nationally representative survey study results have been released on medical oncologists beliefs, practices, and knowledge regarding marijuana used therapeutically.
Just about every state medical marijuana law identifies cancer as being a condition that qualifies for its use, but there is not much research to support its use in oncology. It was hypothesized the discrepancy between laws and scientific evidence base poses some clinical challenges for oncologists. This study was designed to examine oncologists’ knowledge, belief, and practices regarding medical marijuana use.
A survey regarding medical marijuana was mailed to a nationally representative random sampling of 400 medical oncologists. Outcome measures included whether medical marijuana was discussed with patients, whether it was recommended, or if the oncologist felt sufficiently informed enough to make the recommendation; views on medical marijuana comparative effectiveness for several conditions including pain management and risk compared to opioids were also queried. Multivariate and bivariate analyses were performed using common standard statistical techniques.
Overall response rate was 63%. Only 30% of oncologists felt that they were sufficiently informed enough to make any recommendations in regards to medical marijuana. 80% said that they had discussed the topic with patients. 46% had recommended medical marijuana clinically. 67% viewed medical marijuana as helpful adjunct to standard pain management, 65% thought medical marijuana is equally or even more effective than that of standard treatments for cachexia and anorexia.
A serious discrepancy has been identified between oncologists reported knowledge base and their beliefs and practices regarding medical marijuana, with 70% of oncologists not feeling that they are sufficiently informed enough to be equipped to make any clinical recommendations in regards to the use of medical marijuana, although the majority had conducted discussions with patients about it, nearly half recommending its use, and the majority do believe that medical marijuana is useful for certain indications.
The findings of this study are clinically important and suggest that there are indeed critical gaps in medical education research, and policy regarding medical marijuana therapies.
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