We are no longer surprised when a chronic pain patient sings the praises of Medical Cannabis. Chronic pain is the leading complaint among patients seeking Medical Cannabis Cards in Utah. Even so, skepticism remains. Perhaps a new study out of Australia can help alleviate at least some of that skepticism.
The study was a longitudinal one that followed more than 2300 patients over the course of 12 months. Roughly half of them were being treated for more than one condition. Researchers were specifically looking at how Medical Cannabis impacted chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.
Following the patients over 12 months allowed researchers the opportunity to gauge results at several increments throughout. Data was gathered from patients through voluntary surveys taken at numerous intervals. The data from the surveys was compared against information provided via an initial questionnaire that patients completed at the start of the Australian study.
Without getting into all the details, the three-month results showed tangible improvement in all conditions except sleep disorders. Chronic pain patients reported significant improvement in their pain levels. They also reported better quality of life.
We are still waiting for the results from the 12-month follow-up surveys. Those results will tell us more about Medical Cannabis’ long-term impact on chronic pain. But from where we stand, things look very promising. It seems reasonable that patients should experience the same benefits at month 12 as reported at month 3.
We mentioned earlier in this post that the Australian study was a longitudinal one. There is significance to that. So much so that we don’t want to let it escape without discussing it.
There are multiple ways to structure scientific studies. Researchers choose a particular structure based on the type of data they are hoping to gather. In the case of a longitudinal study, the goal is to gather data on repeated observations of the same variables over an extended period of time.
Put another way, a longitudinal strategy collects and analyzes the same kind of data over the entire length of the study. A pain study designed to be conducted over 12 months would dictate giving patients the exact same surveys at every follow-up interval. Using identical surveys serves the purpose of asking identical questions in order to measure the same data.
The choice to make the Australian study longitudinal demonstrates a genuine interest in learning how patients are affected by Medical Cannabis over the long term. By contrast, a small-scale clinical study based on the randomized clinical trial model would utilize a very small test window on a one-off basis.
To be honest, we are not surprised by the results the Australian researchers observed. History records people using cannabis medically as a pain treatment for centuries. We know it works. Science is just catching up to that knowledge now.
At any rate, pain is a qualifying condition for medical Cannabis in Utah under two qualifications. The first is chronic pain. Patients who experience pain daily, or almost daily, for more than three months are eligible to obtain a Medical Cannabis Card after consulting with a medical provider.
The second is acute pain that medical providers and patients expect would be otherwise treated with prescription medications. If an acute pain patients meet certain qualifications, he or she can elect to use Medical Cannabis over other pain meds.
Chronic pain continues to be the number one driver of Medical Cannabis consumption in both Utah and across the country. What does that tell you? It tells us what science is just now starting to prove: Medical Cannabis works.