Researchers from the University of Vermont have found that less than 20% of patients think their doctors are a 'good source' of information on cannabis-related health issues.
The researchers surveyed 1009 primary care patients in Vermont aged 18 and older, with a median age was 51. All responses were anonymous, and all participants lived in the state of Vermont.
The survey asked about each patient's use of CBD and THC products, how helpful they were for different medical conditions, overall knowledge of the compounds, perceived knowledge of their provider, and any concerns regarding the legalization of cannabis.
All in all, the researchers found that just 18% of patients thought their provider was a 'good source of information regarding cannabis'. This may come as surprising to some, especially as the substance has been legal in the state for physician-authorized use since 2004.
Regardless, these findings are not unique. Previous surveys of health care professionals conducted both in the US and Canada consistently found similar results. More than this, a study from 2017 found that over 75% of medical school curriculum deans in the US say that their graduates are ill-prepared to answer patients' questions around medical marijuana.
Despite this, most respondents to the survey perceived cannabis products to be either 'very' or 'somewhat' helpful in treating symptoms, including pain and depression. Patients also reported using the substance to treat conditions, including migraine and arthritis, and sleep problems.
"The results of our research pose important questions that should be investigated in the future." write the authors of the study. "Considering patients feel that their providers may not be an adequate source of information regarding cannabinoids, it would be interesting to explore the perceived knowledge and perceptions of cannabinoids by primary care providers, to identify opportunities for improvement."
"Further research should consider how to assist primary care providers in having informed conversations about the risks and benefits of cannabis, especially in the setting of chronic pain."