Survey: Most Patients Don’t Believe Their Doctors Are a “Good Source” of Information Regarding Cannabis

Burlington, VT: Fewer than one-in-five patients believe that their primary care providers are particularly knowledgeable about cannabis-specific health issues, according to survey data published in The Journal of Primary Care & Community Health.

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Vermont surveyed over 1,000 primary care patients aged 18 and older. Respondents resided throughout the state of Vermont. The median age of the respondents was 51 years old.

Only 18 percent of patients surveyed “rated their provider as a good source of information regarding cannabis.” State lawmakers legalized the physician-authorized use of cannabis to qualified patients in 2004.

Several prior surveys of health care professionals in the United States and Canada – such as those here, here, here, here, and here – have consistently found that respondents do not believe that they possess sufficient knowledge about cannabis’ health and safety effects.

Many patients who participated in the survey reported using products containing either CBD or THC for therapeutic purposes. Twenty-one percent of respondents said that they had used CBD within the past month, while 19 percent reported using THC-based products.

Most respondents perceived the products to be either “very” or “somewhat helpful” in treating a variety of symptoms, including pain and depression. Cannabis products were also commonly reported by patients for the treatment of migraine and arthritis, as well as for improving sleep quality.

Authors concluded: “The results of our research pose important questions that should be investigated in the future. Considering patients feel that their providers may not be an adequate source of information regarding cannabinoids, it would be interesting to explore the perceived knowledge and perceptions of cannabinoids by primary care providers, to identify opportunities for improvement. … Further research should consider how to assist primary care providers in having informed conversations about the risks and benefits of cannabis, especially in the setting of chronic pain.”

Full text of the study, “Use and reported helpfulness of cannabinoids among primary care patients in Vermont,” appears in The Journal of Primary Care & Community Health.