Study: Medical Marijuana Improves Health-Related Quality of Life That’s Sustained Over Time

According to a newly published study patients using medical marijuana “reported improvements in health-related quality of life, which were mostly sustained over time”.

The study was published today by the journal JAMA Open Network, which is operated by the American Medical Association. It was conducted by researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology, Austin Hospital and the University of Western Australia.

The objective of the study was to “assess whether patients using medical cannabis report improvements in health-related quality of life over time.”

According to researchers, “This retrospective case series study was conducted at a network of specialist medical clinics (Emerald Clinics) located across Australia. Participants were patients who received treatment for any indication at any point between December 2018 and May 2022.”

Patients were followed up every mean (SD) 44.6 (30.1) days. Data for up to 15 follow-ups were reported. Statistical analysis was conducted from August to September 2022.

The main outcome measure was health-related quality of life as assessed using the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire.

“In this case series of 3148 patients, 1688 (53.6%) were female; 820 (30.2%) were employed; and the mean (SD) age was 55.9 (18.7) years at baseline before treatment”, states the study. “Chronic noncancer pain was the most common indication for treatment (68.6% [2160 of 3148]), followed by cancer pain (6.0% [190 of 3148]), insomnia (4.8% [152 of 3148]), and anxiety (4.2% [132 of 3148]).”

After commencing 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.”

After controlling for potential confounders in a regression model, “treatment with medical cannabis was associated with an improvement of 6.60 (95% CI, 4.57-8.63) points to 18.31 (95% CI, 15.86-20.77) points in SF-36 scores, depending on the domain (all P < .001). Effect sizes (Cohen d) ranged from 0.21 to 0.72. A total of 2919 adverse events were reported, including 2 that were considered serious.”

The study concludes:

In this case series study, patients using medical cannabis reported improvements in health-related quality of life, which were mostly sustained over time. Adverse events were rarely serious but common, highlighting the need for caution with prescribing medical cannabis.

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