DEC 14, 2022 8:00 AM PST

Cannabis Media Coverage Generally Positive Regardless of Clinical Outcome

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in JAMA Open Network shows that cannabis receives significant media coverage regardless of the clinical outcome. Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden analyzed 20 published clinical studies in which cannabis and placebo treatments of clinical pain were compared. 

The clinical studies included roughly 1,500 individuals. The analysis of media coverage included a total of 136 news items in traditional media and blogs. These items were classified as positive, negative, or neutral. This categorization was based on how the results were presented concerning the effectiveness of cannabis pain treatment.

The primary outcome measurement was a change in pain intensity before and after treatment. One finding showed that participants rated the pain as being significantly less intense after treatment with a placebo. The researchers also observed no difference in pain reduction between cannabis and placebo. 

Another key finding was that cannabis topics usually get favorable coverage in the media. Study author Filip Gedin explained what the researchers observed about media coverage: “We see that cannabis studies are often described in positive terms in the media regardless of their results. This is problematic and can influence expectations when it comes to the effects of cannabis therapy on pain. The greater the benefit a treatment is assumed to have, the more potential harms can be tolerated.” The researchers recommend further research on media influences and public awareness of cannabinoid research. This research will be critical as cannabis use increases, and cannabis policy reform evolves.  

In addition, the researchers examined a potential link between the therapeutic effects highlighted in cannabis studies and the coverage received in the media and academic journals. To analyze media presence, the researchers used a data analytics approach called Altmetric to evaluate mentions in the media, in blogs and on social media. Citations by other researchers were another measure of academic impact, and cannabis studies received much greater media attention than other published studies. 

Sources: Eureka News Alert, JAMA Open Network


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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