Understanding Patients’ Process to Use Medical Marijuana: A Southern New Jersey Community Engagement Project
Given the necessity to better understand the process patients need to go through in order to seek treatment via medical marijuana, this study investigates this process to better understand this phenomenon. Specifically, Compassion Care Foundation (CCF) and Stockton University worked together to identify a solution to this problem. Specifically, 240 new patients at CCF were asked to complete a 1-page survey regarding various aspects associated with their experience prior to their use of medicinal marijuana-diagnosis, what prompted them to seek treatment, level of satisfaction with specific stages in the process, total length of time the process took, and patient’s level of pain. Results reveal numerous patient diagnoses for which medical marijuana is being prescribed; the top 4 most common are intractable skeletal spasticity, chronic and severe pain, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Next, results indicate a little over half of the patients were first prompted to seek alternative treatment from their physicians, while the remaining patients indicated that other sources such as written information along with friends, relatives, media, and the Internet persuaded them to seek treatment. These data indicate that a variety of sources play a role in prompting patients to seek alternative treatment and is a critical first step in this process. Additional results posit that once patients began the process of qualifying to receive medical marijuana as treatment, the process seemed more positive even though it takes patients on average almost 6 months to obtain their first treatment after they started the process. Finally, results indicate that patients are reporting a moderately high level of pain prior to treatment. Implication of these results highlights several important elements in the patients’ initial steps toward seeking medical marijuana, along with the quality and quantity of the process patients must engage in prior to obtaining treatment. In addition, identifying patients’ level of pain and better understanding the possible therapeutic value of medical marijuana are essential to patients and health practitioners.
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