Interest in Cannabis as a medicinal product is growing globally; recent scheduling review of Cannabis by the Chief Medical Officer puts forward a strong case for the therapeutic benefit of cannabis-based medicinal products. We have noticed an increased incidence of questions, from patients and carers relating to Cannabis use. More patients appear to confide in us about their use of Cannabis. The incidence of Cannabis use in a palliative care population is little known.
We undertook a sequential survey of fifty patients referred into and triaged as requiring domiciliary review by the Severn Hospice Nurse Outreach team. Each patient was asked at the end of the usual initial assessment whether they would take part in the anonymised survey.
Results 50 consecutive patients referred to the Shropshire community palliative care team (outreach specialist nurses) 36 patients completed the survey.
Of 36 questionnaires completed 8 patients declined completion. 10 patients (almost a third of those completing the survey) had considered using Cannabis, 18 had not.
The study population (n=36) were mainly aged over 70 (n=21). Gender split was fairly equal. Of those who had considered cannabis (n=10), the main reason was for pain relief (n=6). Other reasons included general wellbeing and treatment/cure. Half of those who had considered cannabis were on chemotherapy. Ages in the ‘cannabis curious’ group tended to be younger – with 40% aged less than 70. Half of these had researched Cannabis using only Media sources.
Conclusions In a survey of 50 palliative care patients in a rural county of England asked ‘Have you considered the use of Cannabis’ most had not. Of 10 patients who said they had considered it, the most commonly cited reason was Pain relief.