Medical cannabis: healthcare professionals' attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Background: The medical marijuana industry and the sociopolitical atmosphere in which it exists have evolved tremendously over the past decade. However, little is known about the healthcare professionals' attitudes, perceptions, and behavior toward patient use of medical marijuana. In order to understand the legitimacy of medical cannabis in the future of palliative care, it is important to understand the beliefs and perceptions of healthcare professionals. Objectives: The purpose of this scholarly project was to (1) assess the attitudes, perceptions, and behavior of healthcare professionals surrounding medical cannabis through an online survey, (2) provide a live learning opportunity about medical cannabis to staff at an 89-bed rural hospital, and (3) determine if the educational opportunity allowed for staff to feel more comfortable discussing medical marijuana with patients. Methods: A Survey pretest was sent out via email to the staff at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. The largest number of participants were RNs or LPNs (67%, n=103) followed by MDs or DOs (15%, n=23) and NPs (10%, n=16). A live educational opportunity was provided for staff members. Those staff were asked to participate in a post-survey after the educational opportunity. Results: Most of the participants cared for patients who use medical marijuana (n=108, 70%). Furthermore, 13 (64%) MDs/DOs and 13 (67%) NPs/PAs either agree or strongly agree that medical cannabis is a legitimate therapy. Fifty people participated in the live educational opportunity, of which 20 participated in the post-survey. Post-survey demonstrated: 12 (60%) said they felt more comfortable discussing cannabis with patients, five (25%) said they were not more comfortable, and three (15%) said they did not know if they felt more comfortable after the educational opportunity. Discussion: With the growing number of users across the United States, it will be essential that those who work in patient-care areas are able to bring clarity to patients who may be curious about the use of medical cannabis for palliative measures. However, more research is needed, specifically surrounding the longitudinal effects of chronic use of cannabis.




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