Research Paper Urges Health Care Providers to Routinely Ask Patients About Cannabis Use

November 10th 2020
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor

Certain studies have suggested cannabis use is beneficial to patients with chronic pain who are using opioids, since so many in the patient population are using cannabis or considering it.

A paper published recently in the journal Pain Management Nursing found that nurses and other health care providers should talk to patients about their cannabis use the same way they discuss other habits, such as smoking and drinking, routinely and without judgment.

The shared decision-making model starts with either the patient or the provider bringing up the topic of cannabis use then moving on to specifics about the patient’s situation, benefits, and risks of cannabis use based on research and evidence, and finally formulating a plan, according to the paper.

“Central to patient-centered conversations is understanding the top priorities of patients,” wrote Marian Wilson, RN, associate professor at the Washington State University College of Nursing, in the paper. “Researchers have suggested that clinicians should ask ‘What matters to you?’ as well as ‘What is the matter?’”

Certain studies have suggested cannabis use is beneficial to patients with chronic pain who are using opioids, since so many in the patient population are using cannabis or considering it. This reason is why the study authors found it important for providers working in pain management to discuss the subject, even though patients may be reluctant to disclose cannabis use because they might have been penalized in the past.

Wilson noted that providers face real challenges in obtaining current, evidence-based information on benefits and risks of cannabis use. The paper calls for the creation of a centralized, noncommercial, scientific repository of information, research, and best practices on cannabis use.

“We want providers to ask people about their cannabis use and we want patients to feel comfortable talking about it, but right now many don’t,” Wilson said in the paper.

REFERENCE

Paper urges healthcare providers to routinely ask patients about cannabis use. Washington State University. https://news.wsu.edu/2020/11/05/paper-urges-healthcare-providers-routinely-ask-patients-cannabis-use/. Published November 5, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020.

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