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Cannabis Use as Described by People with Multiple Sclerosis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2014

S.A. Page
Affiliation:
Office of Medical Bioethics, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada
M.J. Verhoef
Affiliation:
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada
R.A. Stebbins
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada
L.M. Metz
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada
J.C. Levy
Affiliation:
Faculty of Law, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada
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Abstract:

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Background:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults. The prevalence of MS in Alberta has been described as among the highest reported in the world, estimated at 217 per 100,000. Numerous anecdotal reports, and a few small empirical investigations have suggested that cannabis use may relieve the symptom experience of those with MS. The present study was undertaken to describe cannabis use by this patient group. Information on peoples’beliefs, practices and experiences related to use were investigated.

Methods:

Aquestionnaire was mailed to a sample of 780 adults with MS in southern Alberta, Canada.

Results:

Completed questionnaires were returned by 420/673 eligible subjects (response rate 62%). Mean sample age was 48 years and 75% were women. Respondents ranged from mildly to severely impaired. The majority of respondents (96%) was aware cannabis was potentially therapeutically useful for MS and most (72%) supported legalization for medicinal purposes. Forty-three percent had tried cannabis at some point in their lives, 16% for medicinal purposes. Symptoms reported to be ameliorated included anxiety/depression, spasticity and chronic pain. Reasons given for not trying cannabis were the fact that it is an illegal substance, concern about side effects and lack of knowledge on how to obtain it.

Conclusions:

Subjective improvements in symptom experience were reported by the majority of people with MS who currently use cannabis. Further evaluation of this substance is warranted.

Résumé:

RÉSUMÉ: Introduction:

La sclérose en plaques (SEP) est l’une des maladies neurologiques les plus fréquentes chez les jeunes adultes. La prévalence de la SEPen Alberta, estimée à 217 par 100 000, a été décrite comme l’une des plus élevées rapportées dans le monde. Plusieurs rapports anecdotiques et quelques études empiriques de petite taille ont suggéré que le l’utilisation de cannabis soulage les symptômes des patients atteints de SEP. Cette étude a été entreprise dans le but de décrire l’utilisation du cannabis chez ces patients. Nous avons évalué l’information sur les croyances, les pratiques et les expériences reliées à son utilisation.

Méthodes:

Un questionnaire a été posté à un échantillon de 780 adultes atteints de SEPrésidant dans le sud de l’Alberta, au Canada.

Résultats:

Quatre cent quarante des 673 sujets éligibles, soit un taux de réponse de 65%, ont retourné le questionnaire complété. L’âge moyen des participants était de 48 ans et 75% étaient des femmes. L’invalidité chez les répondants était de légère à sévère. La majorité des répondants (96%) savaient que le cannabis pouvait avoir une valeur thérapeutique dans la SEP et la plupart (72%) étaient favorables à sa légalisation à des fins médicinales. Quarante-trois pour cent avaient essayé le cannabis à un moment ou l’autre de leur vie, dont 16% à des fins médicinales. Selon les utilisateurs, les symptômes qui étaient améliorés étaient l’anxiété/la dépression, la spasticité et la douleur chronique. Les raisons fournies pour ne pas avoir essayé le cannabis étaient le fait qu’il s’agit d’une substance illégale, l’inquiétude au sujet des effets secondaires et l’ignorance sur les moyens de s’en procurer.

Conclusions:

Une amélioration subjective de la symptomatologie a été rapportée par la majorité des patients qui utilisent actuellement le cannabis. Une évaluation plus poussée de cette substance dans ce contexte est justifiée.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Canadian Journal of Neurological 2003

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