Patient-Related Barriers to the Prescription of Cannabinoid-Based Medicines in Palliative Care: A Qualitative Approach

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“Background: A minority of palliative care patients benefit from prescribed cannabinoid-based medicines (CBMs).

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the perceptions, expectations, and experiences of CBM usage among palliative care patients and to evaluate whether and how they may constitute an obstacle to prescription.

Design: This is a qualitative study involving semistructured in-depth interviews with 10 patients hospitalized in a palliative care unit in Geneva, Switzerland. The data were analyzed using the interpretative phenomenological analysis method.

Results: Semistructured interviews were conducted on 10 patients (average age of 73.3 years), mainly with advanced cancer. Most patients favored CBM use in palliative care and distinguished it from recreational use. Seven themes were identified from patients’ perceptions, experiences, and expectations during the interviews: right time to begin CBMs, off-label use, information about side effects, lack of a safe medical framework, costs, relatives, and social acceptance of CBMs.

Conclusion: The obstacles described by the patients seem to be surmountable with specific measures at the clinical level. We suggest training health professionals in a palliative care setting, especially in explaining the effects and side effects. CBMs will undoubtedly play a more significant role in palliative care medicine in the years to come.”

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