Health care provider preferences for, and barriers to, cannabis use in cancer care

  • A. McLennan Holy Cross Cancer Centre, University of Calgary
  • M. Kerba Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary
  • U. Subnis Holy Cross Cancer Centre, University of Calgary
  • T. Campbell Holy Cross Cancer Centre, University of Calgary
  • L. E. Carlson University of Calgary, Holy Cross Cancer Centre
Keywords: Cannabis, Knowledge, Cancer, Preferences, Barriers

Abstract

Background Limited research has been conducted about the perspectives of oncology health care providers (hcps) concerning the use of cannabis in cancer care and their potential role in advising patients. We sought to determine the barriers encountered by hcps with respect to medical cannabis and their preferred practices in this area.

Methods An anonymous survey about cannabis was distributed to oncology hcps at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, Alberta. The 45-question survey measured the opinions of hcps about cannabis use and authorization in oncology.

Results Of 103 oncology hcps who participated in the study, 75% were women. By hcp type, the most commonly reported professional groups were oncology nurse (40%), radiation therapist (9%), and pharmacist 6%); and 75% reported providing direct care to cancer patients. More than half (69%) had spoken to a patient about cannabis in the preceding month, and 84% believed that they lacked sufficient knowledge about cannabis to make recommendations. Barriers such as monitoring the patient’s use of cannabis (54%), prescribing an accurate dose (61%) or strain (53%), and having insufficient research (50%) were most commonly reported. More than half of hcps (53%) would be interested in receiving more information or training about the use of cannabis in oncology.

Conclusions The survey indicated that this group of oncology hcps believed that they lacked sufficient knowledge about cannabis to make recommendations to patients. In addition to that lack of knowledge, a number of notable barriers were reported, and more than half the hcps indicated interest in learning more about cannabis in the future.

Author Biographies

A. McLennan, Holy Cross Cancer Centre, University of Calgary

Department of Psychosocial Oncology

M. Kerba, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary

Department of Oncology

U. Subnis, Holy Cross Cancer Centre, University of Calgary

Department of Psychosocial Oncology

T. Campbell, Holy Cross Cancer Centre, University of Calgary

Department of Psychosocial Oncology

L. E. Carlson, University of Calgary, Holy Cross Cancer Centre

Department of Psychosocial Oncology

Published
2019-12-16
How to Cite
McLennan, A., Kerba, M., Subnis, U., Campbell, T., & Carlson, L. E. (2019). Health care provider preferences for, and barriers to, cannabis use in cancer care. Current Oncology, 27(2). https://doi.org/10.3747/co.27.5615
Section
Psychosocial Oncology