Background Though the introduction of biologics has resulted in significant improvements in their quality of life, people living with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease (RMD) often seek alternative treatments, such as marijuana (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). As these substances become more widely available, and legal in some jurisdictions, health care providers (HCP) need to understand patients’ THC/CBD perceptions, use and information needs.
Objectives To examine patient behavior and information needs regarding THC/CBD medical use.
Methods A 77-item survey was developed in partnership with RMD patient partners and administered online via CreakyJoints and the ArthritisPower research registry. Participants (pts) were eligible if they were ≥19 years of age, resided in the US and reported physician-diagnosed RMD. Pts reported current health status (NIH PROMIS Global Health), use and perceptions of THC/CBD, and related information needs.
Results To date, 189 pts completed the survey. A majority of pts were female (87%) and white (93%), with mean age of 55(11). More than half of all pts (62%) reported a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Most pts (78%) reported fair/poor health (PROMIS Global Physical Health <43). Only 30% of all pts were satisfied with their current treatment, and more than half (63%) had been on their current treatment for >1 year. Of those surveyed, a majority of pts (n=168, 89%) reported trying THC and/or CBD for a purpose they perceived as medical and offered various reasons for initiating its use (Table). Half of all pts (n=98, 52%) reported ever using CBD and a third (n=70, 37%) ever using THC “for medical reasons,” fifty-one (73%) of whom currently use THC. More than half (53%) of those currently using THC reported using it at least once daily. Top reasons for stopping among the 19 who previously used THC were cost (26%) and illegality (26%). Most pts who had ever used THC reported that THC improved their symptoms (83%) and/or their condition (71%). Pain (100%) and sleep disturbance (73%) were the main symptoms pts sought to relieve with THC. Many pts had used THC in lieu of prescribed (56%) or OTC (73%) medications. Two thirds (67%) reported telling their HCP about their THC use, most of whom (64%) reported that their HCP did not consider it when making treatment changes nor offer advice about mode of administration or dosage. When acquiring THC, 39% of pts used a medical marijuana card issued by the state; the main reason given for not using a card was that THC was not legal for medical use where the pt lived (44%). Whether they had used THC for medical reasons or not, nearly all pts wanted information about THC, including its effectiveness (37%) and its interaction with other medications (34%); a majority preferred to receive information from HCPs (55%) or online educational resources (34%). Two thirds (60%) of all pts expressed interest in THC/CBD trial participation.
Conclusion Though many pts have used or currently use THC/CBD to substitute for or augment their prescribed treatment, pts lack adequate information to guide its use for medical reasons.
Disclosure of Interests None declared
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