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According to a new study published in the journal Clinical Gerontologist, medical marijuana significantly improves quality of life for seniors: And the more they consume, the better the effect. The study is titled Assessing Health-Related Outcomes of Medical Cannabis Use among Older Persons: Findings from Colorado and Illinois.
For the study researchers surveyed 139 seniors about their medical marijuana use and self-reported changes in outcome over a period of one year. They found that medical marijuana use among those over the age of 60 showed a positive association in improvements in test subjects’ health-related quality of life (HRQL).
The study found a “strong positive association” between the frequency of cannabis use by test subjects and self-reported improvements in pain, health-care utilization, and overall health-related quality of life. The test subjects did not report a statistically significant association with the use of medical cannabis and adverse effects. Researchers say they “identified a strong positive association between higher frequency of cannabis use and improvement to HRQL and HCU [health-care utilization] scores.”
“Our regression modeling also identified a strong positive relationship between higher frequency of cannabis use and self-reported improvements to pain symptoms,” they continued. “The positive relationship between near-daily use and improved reports offers further evidence of the perceived value of medical cannabis as a therapeutic approach for pain management.”
“These results are hardly surprising,” NORML said in a press release. “Many seniors likely experimented first-hand with cannabis during their youth and are now returning to it as a potential therapy to mitigate many of the health-related symptoms that come with older age, including chronic pain. Many seniors are well aware of the litany of serious adverse side-effects associated with available prescription drugs, like opioids, and they perceive medical cannabis to be a viable alternative.”
Below is the study’s abstract in its entirety:
To assess health-related outcomes associated with medical cannabis use among older patients in Colorado and Illinois enrolled in their home state’s medical cannabis program.
Cross-sectional data from anonymous surveys were collected from 139 persons over the age of 60 using medical cannabis in the past year. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to confirm the hypothesized four-factor structure that includes health-related quality of life (HRQL), health-care utilization (HCU), symptom effects, and adverse events. We then examined associations between cannabis use and self-reported outcome changes using linear regression.
The four-factor model was the best fitting structure (X2(df) = 81.63 (67), p> X2 = 0.108) relative to reduced structures. We also found that using cannabis 1–4 times per week is associated with 3.30 additional points on the HRQL scale (p < .001), 2.72 additional points on the HCU scale (p < .01), and 1.13 points on pain (p < .001). The frequency of use reported at 5–7 times per week is associated with 4.71 additional HRQL score points (p < .001). No significant associations were observed between the frequency of use and adverse events.
We observed how cannabis use outcomes fall into four independent factors, and those using more frequently reported higher values on HRQL, HCU, and pain measures. However, we are cautious about the generalizability of our findings.
Clinicians should consider how older patients using medical cannabis can experience positive and negative outcomes simultaneously or separately and assess these outcomes directly along with considering patient self-reports.
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