Two new national surveys on the use of cannabis for the treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been launched in Australia.
The anonymous surveys — one designed for patients and another for IBD specialists across the country — are meant to evaluate the impact of cannabis-based medications on IBD patients’ work, productivity, overall quality of life, and medication use.
IBD comprises a group of autoimmune disorders, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, that cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. As a result, patients experience bouts of abdominal pain and diarrhea, often accompanied by weight loss and rectal bleeding, which pose a significant burden to their overall quality of life.
For this reason, many patients turn to cannabis-based medications to seek relief from their flare-ups and to better manage their symptoms.
In 2016, the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, created by the University of Sydney in Australia, launched the first survey, called the Cannabis as Medicine Survey (CAMS-16), to assess the impact of medicinal cannabis on the lives of Australian patients.
CAMS-16 surveyed a total of 1,748 Australians with a mean age of 37.9 years who used cannabis for medicinal purposes for an average of 9.8 years.
Most respondents reported using cannabis for anxiety (50.7%), back pain (50.0%), depression (49.3%), and insomnia (43.5%). Among those surveyed, 202 (12.4%) said they used cannabis to manage their IBD symptoms.
Meanwhile, data analysis from the Cannabis as Medicine Survey 2018 (CAMS-18), a survey that builds on the data generated by CAMS-16, is now being conducted before the publication of final results. So far, preliminary data from CAMS-18 is consistent with previous findings from CAMS-16.
Many IBD patients feel unsatisfied with currently available medications used to manage their symptoms. As a result, they are taking an interest in using cannabis as an alternative. The new national surveys launched by the Lambert Initiative are intended to capture both patients’ and clinicians’ perspectives on the specific use of cannabis to manage IBD symptoms.
“Medicinal cannabis is an important issue that is popping up in our clinics and we need to know how our patients may be using it to address their IBD symptoms. The patient survey will help to understand this,” study investigator Crispin Corte, PhD, said in a press release. Corte is a specialist gastroenterologist and clinical lead of IBD at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
According to findings from a previous cross-sectional survey involving a total of 640 Australian physicians, most agreed that cannabis should be available on prescription, but they didn’t know how to navigate the bureaucratic procedures to be able to prescribe it to patients.
Now, with its new specialist survey, the Lambert Initiative hopes to gather updated views from clinicians on the matter.
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