Canada: Physicians-in-Training Lack Sufficient Medical Cannabis Understanding, Finds Survey

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Canada: Physicians-in-Training Lack Sufficient Medical Cannabis Understanding, Finds Survey

According to new survey data published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Medicine a epublished by the National Institute of Health, the majority of physicians-in-training in Canada say that they receive insufficient instruction with regard to the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

For this study researchers surveyed the opinions of self-selected physicians-in-training regarding the degree to which they felt prepared to address issues surrounding medical cannabis.

Researchers found that “the average amount of training received [by physicians-in-training] was less than 25 percent of the amount desired, and more than three quarters of trainees reported that further training would be required in order for them to engage comfortably with CTP [cannabis for therapeutic purposes].”

They continue: “Our findings suggest that more education surrounding CTP among Canadian physicians-in-training will be required to remedy the perceived knowledge gaps reported by practicing physicians”.

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The study is titled Cannabis education needs assessment among Canadian physicians-in-training.

The full abstract can be found below:


Since 1999, the Canadian courts have recognized the rights of patients to access cannabis for therapeutic purposes (CTP). Due to the increasing interest in the use of CTP, competency with the topic among health care providers is essential. As concerns mount around the role of industry involvement in cannabis education, it has become increasingly important for medical schools to provide physicians-in-training balanced evidence regarding the harms and benefits of CTP. In the present study, we surveyed Canadian physicians-in-training regarding their knowledge, experience, attitudes, and barriers surrounding CTP.


Survey questions were adapted from extant physician and nurse practitioner education needs assessments. We invited representatives from all 17 Canadian universities with a Faculty of Medicine to electronically distribute the survey to physicians-in-training.


The survey was accessed by 93 physicians-in-training of whom 76 provided responses (46 % female; Mage = 28, SD = 3.03). Physicians-in-training reported receiving significantly less instruction on CTP than they desired. Responses demonstrated differences between current and desired knowledge across all domains queried. More education was the factor identified as most likely to increase comfort authorizing and discussing CTP with patients.


Findings from this study demonstrate an expressed desire for more education surrounding CTP among a self-selected sample of Canadian physicians-in-training. There was a substantial divergence between current and desired levels of knowledge, and the largest gaps related to creating effective treatment plans and understanding the risks and benefits of CTP. Improving the educational opportunities of students will improve standard-of-care for patients.

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