A new University of Alabama at Birmingham study suggests that even as the public’s desire for cannabinoid therapy grows, health care professionals may still not be equipped to help their patients make informed, science-based choices.
The lead author of the study, Magdalena Szaflarski, Ph.D., is an associate professor at UAB. The findings were recently published online and are scheduled to be included in the print version of Epilepsy and Behavior in the August 2020 issue.
In 2018, an online survey of US-based neurologists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and nurses was conducted by the University. In it, participants were asked about their knowledge and attitudes toward both recreational and medicinal cannabis.
The findings showed that around 80 percent of respondents favored the use of cannabis for medical purposes, provided that it was prescribed by a health care professional. However, only 43 percent had a favorable view of recreational marijuana.
A large number of those surveyed claimed they did not have much knowledge about cannabis and were unfamiliar with current regulations and availability. The survey confirmed this. Between 26 and 68 percent of the participants had knowledge gaps in one or more areas. The knowledge portion of the study consisted of questions about:
- The endocannabinoid system
- Pharmacology of cannabis
- Effects of cannabis
- Clinical applications
- Government regulation
However, a promising sign was that around 77 percent of the neurologists surveyed favored the use of CBD for epilepsy. This represents a significant increase from 2014, where only 48 percent supported the use of cannabis for severe epilepsy.
It was also reported that while 60 percent of the American public supports legalization for both CBD and cannabis (for medical and recreational purposes), only 43 percent of the health care providers surveyed agree.
Szaflarski says that “Our study suggests that many are not educated enough on medical cannabis to counsel their patients and recommend specific products or dosing. Patients are often left on their own to seek or obtain products and figure out dosing; such self-treatment may be harmful. Properly educated health care professionals can weigh potential benefits and risks of medical cannabis for individual patients and help mitigate potentially unsafe practices. Thus, professional cannabinoid education nationwide is immensely needed.”
Source: Science Direct