Systematic review of outcome domains and measures used in psychosocial and pharmacological treatment trials for cannabis use disorder

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Jan 1;194:500-517. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.10.020. Epub 2018 Nov 15.


Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is prevalent and demand for treatment is increasing, yet few individuals engage in formal treatment and the efficacy of established interventions for CUD is modest. Existing clinical trials evaluating psychosocial and pharmacological treatments for CUD have incorporated a wide variety of measures for assessing cannabis use outcomes, including abstinence, self-reported frequency and quantity used, withdrawal, use/dependence severity, and other psychosocial outcomes. The heterogeneity of measures and outcomes has limited quantitative analyses of the comparative effectiveness of existing interventions. The purpose of this systematic review is to: 1) identify and characterize approaches for measuring cannabis use in existing CUD intervention trials, including abstinence, frequency and quantity of use, and 2) summarize measures used to assess treatment efficacy in other outcome domains (e.g., cannabis use severity, psychosocial functioning, cannabis withdrawal), and provide a platform for future research to evaluate which outcome measures are most likely to reflect treatment efficacy and clinically significant improvement in other outcome domains.

Keywords: Abuse; Cannabis use disorder; Dependence; Outcomes; Randomized controlled trial; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / drug therapy
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology
  • Marijuana Abuse / therapy*
  • Self Report
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Treatment Outcome