International forskning

Perceptions and Preoccupations of Patients and Physicians Regarding Use of Medical Cannabis as an Intervention Against Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: Results from a Qualitative Study

Lise Poisblaud 1 2, Edeltraut Kröger 1 2 3, Nathalie Jauvin 4, Julie Pelletier-Jacob 1, Richard E Bélanger 2 5, Guillaume Foldes-Busque 5 6, Michèle Aubin 1 2 5, Pierre Pluye 7, Laurence Guillaumie 8, Malek Amiri 8, Pierre Dagenais 9, Clermont E Dionne 1 2 5

  • 1Centre d’excellence sur le vieillissement de Québec (CEVQ), Centre Intégré Universitaire de Santé et de Services Sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale (CIUSSSCN), Québec, Quebec, Canada.
  • 2Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec, Université Laval, Québec, Quebec, Canada.
  • 3Faculty of Pharmacy, Université Laval, Québec, Quebec, Canada.
  • 4Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Québec, Quebec, Canada.
  • 5School of Psychology, Université Laval, Québec, Quebec, Canada.
  • 6Research Centre, Centre Intégré de Santé et de Services Sociaux (CISSS) de Chaudière-Appalaches, Lévis, Quebec, Canada.
  • 7Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.
  • 8Faculty of Nursing, Université Laval, Québec, Quebec, Canada.
  • 9Faculty of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.


Objective: Explore perceptions and preoccupations regarding use of medical cannabis against chronic musculoskeletal pain, among patients and physicians.

Design: Qualitative study using interviews with patients and physicians, based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB).

Setting: The study was conducted in Quebec, Canada, in spring 2020.

Subjects: We included 27 adult patients and 11 physicians (GPs, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, and a rheumatologist); the mean age of patients was 48.2 years; 59.3% of patients and 36.4% of physicians were women; 59.3% of patients used no medical cannabis at the time of study; 45.5% of physicians had never authorized it.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed and for the qualitative analysis codes were developed in a hybrid, inductive and deductive approach. Guided by the TPB, facilitators and barriers, perceived benefits and harms, and perceived norms that may influence cannabis use or authorization were documented.

Results: Although medical cannabis is an interesting avenue for the relief of chronic musculoskeletal pain, doctors and patients agreed that it remained a last line option, due to the lack of scientific evidence regarding its safety and efficacy. The norms surrounding medical cannabis also play an important role in the social and professional acceptance of this therapeutic option.

Conclusion: Medical cannabis is seen as a last line option among interventions in the management of chronic pain, and attitudes and prior experiences play a role in the decision to use it. Study results may contribute to improved shared decision making between patients and physicians regarding this option.