Exploring cancer survivors' attitudes, perceptions, and concerns about using medical cannabis for symptom and side effect management: A qualitative focus group study

Complement Ther Med. 2019 Dec;47:102204. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102204. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to gain a greater understanding of cancer survivors' attitudes, perspectives, and concerns about medical cannabinoids (MCs) for cancer symptom and side effect management. Using qualitative methods, we conducted four focus groups (n = 19) with cancer survivors recruited from a community-based cancer wellness center. Groups were audio-recorded and facilitated by experienced co-moderators who directed discussion using a semi-structured interview guide. Transcripts were coded using principles from Grounded Theory. Analyses revealed the following ten themes and percentages of codes applied: 1) Attitudes & Beliefs (25.3%), 2) Access (17.1%), 3) Information (15.5%), 4) Concern (14%), 5) How MCs Helped (12.6%), 6) Comfort (4.3%), 7) Confusion (3.6%), 8) Trust/Distrust (3.1%), 9) Behaviors (2.3%), and 10) Support (2.2%). Participants reported that MCs offer potential benefits for symptom management and side effect relief, especially in reducing and managing pain. Despite the growing number of states that are legalizing MCs, significant barriers exist that make knowledge and adequate access a challenge for many.

Keywords: Cancer survivors; Medical cannabis; Medical oncology; Qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Qualitative Research

Substances

  • Medical Marijuana