MAY 24, 2023 7:42 AM PDT

Significant Improvement in Quality of Life for those using Medical Cannabis

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in JAMA Open Network found that patients using medical cannabis reported significant improvements in health-related quality of life. The researchers noted that medical cannabis is generally safe and well tolerated, although there is still a need for taking precautions with prescribing and using medical cannabis.Still, the ever-growing number of states allow people to buy it legally from places such as the Sanctuary Dispensary or similar ones.

The retrospective case series study was conducted at a network of specialist medical clinics located throughout Australia. Participants were patients who received treatment for various health reasons between December 2018 and May 2022. This case series included 3,148 participants. 53.6% were female, and the mean age was 55.9 years. 30.2% were employed. Chronic noncancer pain was the most common reason for treatment (68.6%). Cancer pain was the second most common reason (6.0%), followed by insomnia (4.8%) and anxiety (4.2%). 

To qualify for participation in the study, patients had to have exhausted other treatment options for the clinical indication(s). The main outcome measure was health-related quality of life, and this outcome was assessed using the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire. 

The eight domains included: 

  1. limitations in physical activities due to health problems
  2. limitations in social activities due to physical or emotional problems
  3. limitations in usual role activities due to physical health problems
  4. bodily pain
  5. general mental health (psychological distress and well-being) 
  6. limitations in usual role activities due to emotional problems
  7. vitality (energy and fatigue)
  8. general health perceptions. Scores usually range from 0 to 100, and higher values indicate better outcomes.

After treatment with medical cannabis, patients reported significant improvements relative to baseline on all 8 domains of the SF-36, and these improvements were mostly sustained over time. Medical cannabis treatment was associated with an improvement of 6.60 points to 18.31 points in SF-36 scores after controlling for potential confounders in a regression model. Effect sizes (using a Cohen d measure) ranged from 0.21 to 0.72. 

A growing number of research studies point to the potential of medical cannabis to enhance health-related quality of life for many patients. One study found that medical cannabis improved the quality of life for senior citizens. Clinical studies that reflect  patient-reported outcomes provide valuable data on medical cannabis safety and efficacy data is critical to effective policy development and medical cannabis program implementation. 

Sources: Eureka News Alert, JAMA Open Network


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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