Increasing Primary Healthcare Providers’ Knowledge About Medical Cannabis as an Alternative Treatment for Chronic Pain
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBackground: Chronic pain is one of the most common patient complaints seen in primary care, affecting over 100 million Americans (Carlini, Garrett, & Carter, 2017). Widespread research and awareness for the safest and most effective methods for treating chronic pain necessitate further awareness. Medical cannabis (MC) can perhaps provide a safe, successful, and for some patients, superior intervention for chronic pain management. Healthcare providers have a critical role in facilitating patient access to and awareness of medical cannabis. Purpose: To examine the attitudes, knowledge, intent to recommend, comfort level and beliefs regarding the use of medical cannabis as an alternative or conjunctive treatment for chronic pain, before and after an educational intervention on the topic. Methods: The AANP provided a randomized mailing list of nurse practitioners in the state of Washington that fit the inclusion criteria of this DNP project. A pretest, an evidence-based educational flyer about the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain, and posttest were all printed and mailed to participants, with results then mailed back to the primary investigator. Data was analyzed through descriptive statistics. Mean averages for each question were determined and compared between pre and posttest. Participants: 100 nurse practitioners providing primary care in Washington state and members of AANP were surveyed, 14 responded. Results: The overall results revealed a positive change in provider knowledge, comfort with, belief in, and intent to recommend MC to patients with chronic pain after implementation of the educational flyer. The average score on knowledge questions and response to the attitudes and beliefs and intent to recommend Likert-style questions increased. The greatest increase in the mean question responses were for the average knowledge questions score which increased by 23.2% and the belief that MC should be recommended as an alternative treatment to chronic pain which increased by 12%. Discussion: This quality improvement project used a pretest/posttest design that resulted in promising findings, which support providing MC education to primary care providers. From a harm reduction viewpoint, this project’s results have aimed to highlight the necessity for more extensive research into the use of MC as an alternative treatment option for patients suffering from chronic pain. Despite the limitations of the survey, important information was gathered overall about the potential effect that evidenced-based education can have on provider knowledge, attitudes, comfort, and intent to recommend medical cannabis for chronic pain. Regardless of the small sample size, this survey gave valuable insight into the role of medical cannabis education, which can be used as the basis for future projects.
Degree ProgramGraduate College