November 10-15

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ACR Convergence 2023

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Home // Rebecca Fitzpatrick, MD: Marijuana use by rheumatology patients

Rebecca Fitzpatrick, MD: Marijuana use by rheumatology patients


2 minutes

Poster presenter: Rebecca Fitzpatrick, MD, Rush University Medical Center

Poster title: Marijuana Use Amongst Rheumatology Patients: It’s More Common Than Rheumatologists Believe

Poster Session C
8:30 – 10:30 a.m. ET Monday, Nov. 8
All ACR Convergence 2021 poster presentations are available on demand to registered meeting participants through March 11, 2022.

What is your poster about?
Our poster was about a survey project to understand how many rheumatology patients are using marijuana and their beliefs about how marijuana affects them. We also surveyed rheumatologists to discover their perspectives on marijuana use in rheumatology patients. We found that a majority of patients have tried marijuana. Most patients using marijuana were over the age of 40 (p=0.05) and most had a pain scale rating greater than 6 (65%, p=0.01). Of marijuana users, 81% stated that marijuana decreased their pain and 65% reported a decrease in pain medication use. The physician survey found that 66.7% of the rheumatologists believed less than 20% of their patients were using marijuana and a majority felt that younger patients (<40) were more likely to use marijuana.

Why did you decide to investigate this topic?
With the legalization of marijuana in many states, rheumatologists are having increased inquiries from patients regarding marijuana use for their pain regimen. There are only a few studies with mixed findings to guide recommendations for providers. Providers need to understand the prevalence of marijuana use among patients and their views regarding its use so that patients can be guided appropriately.

What are you working on next related to this research?
While we are not actively working on anything at this moment, I would like to continue to survey more patients and providers about marijuana use among rheumatology patients to see if any further trends become statistically significant. I also think there is a need for further studies on the safety and effects of marijuana use in rheumatology patients given the high prevalence of use.

What excites you most about your work?
As our project showed, there is a high prevalence for marijuana use among rheumatology patients, and it is important to understand why patients are using marijuana. If they are using it for pain control and it helps them become less reliant on pain medications, it might be a good alternative for patients to give them some relief from the pain of their rheumatologic conditions. This is why it will be important to have studies on the safety of marijuana in this patient population.