Study: Strong Majority of Hospice Professionals Support Medical Marijuana

A large majority of hospice  professionals support medical marijuana, according to a new study published in The Journal of Palliative Medicine and published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

For the study – titled A survey of hospice professional regarding medical cannabis practices – researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 310 hospice professionals (primarily nurses) from 40 states. 91% of respondents said that they endorse medical marijuana for hospice patients. In addition, 90% stated that they have fielded questions from patients regarding medical marijuana, and 73% said that they’ve had a patient who has used it.

The study states that “[R]egardless of legal status, hospice staff overwhelmingly support patient access to MC (medical cannabis). Those who practice in states where MC is not yet legal wish that it was.”

It continues; “The consensus of our survey sample is that MC appears to be relatively safe and effective for a variety of conditions and is being used by several routes of administration. … Our findings highlight important opportunities to support hospice providers and their patients through education and the development of policies.”

The full study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Enclara Pharmacia and Turn-Key Health, can be found by clicking here.

The full abstract can be found below:

Introduction: With medical cannabis (MC) remaining illegal at the federal level, hospice programs are unsure how to handle requests for MC, particularly since hospice is largely funded with federal dollars. The purpose of this survey was to determine respondents’ comfort level with MC use in hospice, what processes and logistics hospice programs are employing when dealing with MC, and to determine what, if any, education hospice programs are providing to their staff. Methods: An anonymous online survey assessed a variety of factors surrounding hospice staff practice, experience, and opinions regarding MC. The survey was disseminated to employees of clients of a large hospice benefit manager as well as through a national hospice and palliative medicine professional organization. Results: Three hundred ten hospice professionals responded to the survey. More than half of the respondents were nurses followed by administrators and physicians. Regardless of legal status, hospice staff members were overwhelmingly in agreement that MC is appropriate for hospice patients to have access to and use. Several barriers to use were identified including discordant legal status between state and federal governments, concerns about clinical efficacy and safety, and a myriad of other societal factors. Wide variations in MC documentation and education practices between hospices were noted. Discussion: The data suggest overwhelming support for MC use in the hospice setting. Our findings highlight important opportunities to support hospice providers and their patients through education and the development of policies around MC.

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