Medicinal Cannabis Use and Preferred Mode of Administration: A Patient Survey
Phillips, Jane L.
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Session presented on Sunday, July 24, 2016: Purpose: Consumer interest in medicinal cannabis has promoted the NSW Ministry of Health in Australia to fund various phase II and III medicinal cannabis trials, including a cancer related anorexia and cachexia trial. However, little is known about Australian cancer patients' views towards medicinal cannabis or administration preferences. The purpose of this study was to determine cancer patients' medicinal cannabis preferences for mode of administration, previous and current use, and attitudes and beliefs towards a cancer-related medicinal cannabis anorexia-cachexia trial. Methods: A cross-sectional anonymous patient survey. Patients were eligible if they: 1) had advanced cancer, 2) experienced appetite loss, taste problems or weight loss, and 3) might consider participating in a trial of cannabis for these problems. The survey was administered online and in the waiting rooms of participating adult outpatient oncology and palliative care services. Responses summarized descriptively via frequencies. Results: Responses were analysed from 109 participants. A third (33%) were aged between 41-60 years of age and half (50%) were male. Preferences for mode of medicinal cannabis administration were: tablets (67%), vaporiser (41%), mouthspray (39%), eating (39%), drinking (34%), topical (28%) and suppositories (8%), with many patients willing to use more than one. The most common reasons for administration preferences were perceived convenience, familiarity, quicker time to effect, lower intrusiveness, more precise dosing and fewer side effects. A minority of respondents were worried about adverse effects (5%), legal issues (2%) and/or indicated a need for further information (4%). Of 15 patients who had experience of medicinal cannabis, 5 used it for pain, 4 psychological problems, 3 appetite loss and 3 insomnia. Two users said that being asked to stop their usual cannabis use would prevent them from participating in a trial, and one was unsure. Comments confirmed strong support for trials of medicinal cannabis and included anecdotal reports of efficacy and perceptions that current evidence is sufficient. Two respondents indicated a belief that cannabis might cure cancer. Conclusion: Comments confirmed strong support for trials of medicinal cannabis and included anecdotal reports of efficacy and perceptions that current evidence is sufficient.