JUL 05, 2018 7:32 AM PDT

Med students aren't learning enough about marijuana

New research suggests that medical students aren’t learning enough about the risks and benefits of medical marijuana, despite 29 states and the District of Columbia allowing marijuana use for medical purposes.

Researchers surveyed medical school deans, residents, and fellows, and examined a curriculum database maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), learning that medical education is not addressing medical marijuana.

“Medical education needs to catch up to marijuana legislation,” says senior author Laura Jean Bierut, the professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse. “Physicians in training need to know the benefits and drawbacks associated with medical marijuana so they know when or if, and to whom, to prescribe the drug.”

Doctors are being asked to guide patients through areas in which most have no training, she explains.

The research team, led by first author Anastasia B. Evanoff, sent surveys to medical school curriculum deans at 172 medical schools in North America, including 31 that specialize in osteopathic medicine, and received 101 replies. Two-thirds (66.7 percent) reported that their graduates were not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana. A quarter of deans said their trainees weren’t even equipped to answer questions about medical marijuana.

The researchers also surveyed 258 residents and fellows who earned their medical degrees from schools around the country before coming to Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to complete their training.

Nearly 90 percent felt they weren’t prepared to prescribe medical marijuana, and 85 percent said they had not received any education about medical marijuana during their time at medical schools or in residency programs throughout the country.

Using data from the AAMC database, the researchers found that only 9 percent of medical schools had reported teaching their students about medical marijuana.

“As a future physician, it worries me,” says Evanoff, a third-year medical student. “We need to know how to answer questions about medical marijuana’s risks and benefits, but there is a fundamental mismatch between state laws involving marijuana and the education physicians-in-training receive at medical schools throughout the country.”

However, several states—Missouri among them—have not legalized medical marijuana, and published studies about potential risks and benefits of medical marijuana often are contradictory. So what are schools to teach?

“You address the controversy,” says co-investigator Carolyn Dufault, assistant dean for education at the university and an instructor in medicine. “You say, ‘This is what we know,’ and you guide students to the points of controversy. You also point out where there may be research opportunities.”

The authors argue that as more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, doctors need to have at least enough training to answer patients’ questions.

“More medical students are now getting better training about opioids, for example,” says Evanoff. “We talk about how those drugs can affect every organ system in the body, and we learn how to discuss the risks and benefits with patients. But if a patient were to ask about medical marijuana, most medical students wouldn’t know what to say.”

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported this research through a grant to the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences.

The findings appear in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

 

This article was originally published on Futurity.org.

 

About the Author
  • Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners (listed below) in an effort to share research news directly with the public.
You May Also Like
DEC 27, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 27, 2019
USDA Approves First State Hemp Growing Plans
Hemp can be cultivated for use as fiber, building materials, CBD oil and more. This plant and its derivatives were legal ...
DEC 27, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 27, 2019
What Does the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Say About Cannabis?
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune explains that Dr. Steven Aks, director of toxicology at Stroger Hospital in Chic ...
FEB 18, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
FEB 18, 2020
Is it Better to Vape THC or Smoke Marijuana?
Vaping THC is becoming increasingly popular. But is it better than simply smoking marijuana out of a joint? How does it ...
MAR 13, 2020
Health & Medicine
MAR 13, 2020
Congressional Committee Advances Medical Marijuana Bills for Veterans
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee recently advanced two bills relating to veteran use of medical marijuana.&nb ...
APR 15, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
APR 15, 2020
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms in 47% Who Quit Cannabis
As cannabis has become more and more popular for both medical and recreational use, researchers are increasingly able to ...
MAY 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
MAY 21, 2020
Hemp Oil Lessens Neuropathic Pain by 10 Times
Researchers from The University of New Mexico have found that legal hemp oil derived from cannabis can reduce pain sensi ...
Loading Comments...