University of Sydney
In 2016, Australia passed legislation allowing cannabis use for medicinal purposes, and since then more than 800,000 patients have received medicinal cannabis prescriptions. As patient-reported outcomes researchers, we wanted to know if patients with chronic health conditions in Australia are reporting their health outcomes differently after being prescribed medicinal cannabis. We were particularly interested in health related quality of life, levels of fatigue, pain, sleep, anxiety, and depression. Full details on study aims and methods can be found in the published protocol.
Patients receiving medicinal cannabis prescriptions from 117 clinicians (mostly primary care physicians) were recruited between November 2020 and December 2021. We had 2,365 patients aged from 18 to 97 years participating from across Australia. Participants completed a series of validated patient-reported outcomes questionnaires before starting therapy and then again at regular intervals during their first 12-months on therapy.
Within the first three months of medicinal cannabis therapy, participants reported improvements in their health related quality of life and fatigue, and also reported improvements in health conditions associated with anxiety, depression, and pain. Full details and results of the first 3-months of the study can be found here.
To see if 3-month improvements were maintained long-term, we repeated our analyses at 12-months and found that they were. In addition, we found that patients with chronic pain conditions experienced reduced pain intensity and pain interference. All improvements were considered clinically important, indicating that the difference was large enough to be noticed and meaningful enough to patients that it would warrant a change in patient care in the absence of excessive costs or side effects. For more information on clinically important differences, click here.
Our findings contribute to the ongoing evidence that clinicians and patients should consider to trial medicinal cannabis after conventional treatments have failed. In general, more research is needed in this area, both in randomised controlled trials and real-world settings.
Abstract will be presented in Oral Session 106 on Thursday, 19 October, 4:05 pm – 5:35 pm.
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