Cannabis users: Screen systematically, treat individually. A descriptive study of participants in a randomized trial in primary care

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 2;14(12):e0224867. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224867. eCollection 2019.


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to describe the profiles of a sample of young cannabis users not seeking care, for use in general practice in France.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, baseline data were used from a previous clinical randomized trial, in which a brief intervention was tested. The participants were 262 cannabis users aged 15 to 25 years who smoked at least one joint per month. Assessment was undertaken both by the GP and via an anonymous self-reporting questionnaire. All statistical analyses were performed using Stata software and R. We used multiple correspondence analysis to determine the profiles of users.

Results: Among the 262 patients, 46.2% were daily users (more than 30 joints per month), 25.6% were regular users (from 10 to 29 joints per month), and 28.2% were recent users (fewer than 10 joints per month). The higher the frequency of use, the greater the incidence of unaccompanied use, daily use and week use (p from <0.001 to 0.01). The motivations of daily users were mostly self-treatment and habit (p <0.05). The cannabis abuse screening trial score revealed risky use for 87.5% of daily users and 34.4% for recent users. Factorial analysis identified 5 profiles according to age, risk, and motive for use. The reasons for consultation were equally distributed among users regardless of their level of use or their profile (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: The results provide support for the practice of asking young patients systematically about their cannabis use, allowing GPs to identify users who require medical care. GPs should consider the differences between participants according to their profile in order to determine the appropriate type of care.

Trial registration: NCT01433692.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Abuse / prevention & control
  • Marijuana Abuse / therapy*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult

Associated data


Grant support

This study was supported by a grant from the French Ministry of Health (PHRC-Hospital Program of Clinical Research; n°0505, 2011). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.