Those with Sickle Cell Disease Who Consume Cannabis Daily Less Likely to be Hospitalized

Those with sickle cell disease (SCD) who consume cannabis on a daily basis have lower rates of hospital admissions than do similarly matched individuals who don’t use cannabis. This is according to a new study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

For the study, researchers from Yale School of Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin “performed a cross-sectional study of adults with SCD and compared daily users of cannabis with others using validated patient-reported measures of pain and quality of life as well as opioid and health care utilization.”

According to researchers, “Daily cannabis users with SCD had worse pain episode severity scores than others (56.7 vs. 48.8, p=0.02) yet had 1.8 fewer annual admissions (p=0.01) and 1.2 fewer annual emergency room (ER) visits (p=0.01), and similar amounts of opioids dispensed to others after matching for age, gender, SCD genotype, hydroxyurea use, and pain impact scores.”

The study concludes by stating: “We show that people with SCD with more severe pain crisis are more likely to use daily cannabis, yet have lower rates of hospital admission and ER use as compared with others with similar disease severity and pain impact.”

The study is titled  Daily cannabis users with sickle cell disease show fewer admissions than others with similar pain complaints.

Below is the study’s full abstract:

Introduction: Previous studies have shown that cannabis use is common in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD), and that many patients report using cannabis to treat pain.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of adults with SCD and compared daily users of cannabis with others using validated patient-reported measures of pain and quality of life as well as opioid and health care utilization.

Results: Daily cannabis users with SCD had worse pain episode severity scores than others (56.7 vs. 48.8, p=0.02) yet had 1.8 fewer annual admissions (p=0.01) and 1.2 fewer annual emergency room (ER) visits (p=0.01), and similar amounts of opioids dispensed to others after matching for age, gender, SCD genotype, hydroxyurea use, and pain impact scores.

Conclusions: We show that people with SCD with more severe pain crisis are more likely to use daily cannabis, yet have lower rates of hospital admission and ER use as compared with others with similar disease severity and pain impact. Randomized controlled trials should be performed.

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