Family attitudes about and experiences with medical cannabis in children with cancer or epilepsy: an exploratory qualitative study

Title

Family attitudes about and experiences with medical cannabis in children with cancer or epilepsy: an exploratory qualitative study

Creator

Gibbard M; Mount D; Rassekh SR; Siden H

Publisher

CMAJ Open

Date

2021

Subject

Epilepsy; Family Attitudes; medical cannabis; oncology; pain management; parent experiences; pediatric palliative care

Description

BACKGROUND: Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in Canada. Our aim was to explore family experiences using medical cannabis for children with severe conditions in the context of legalization. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study using semistructured interviews between April and July 2019. Participants were parents of children attending BC Children's Hospital oncology or palliative care clinics, recruited through posters, emails or referral. Participants were included if they spoke English and their child used any type of cannabis for medical purposes. Interviews included open-ended questions about the child's cannabis use. Interviews were recorded and transcribed, and thematic analysis was performed using qualitative description. RESULTS: Ten interviews were completed with 9 mothers and 1 mother-father pair. The age range of the children was 22 months to 16 years. The primary reasons for cannabis use were epilepsy (6 children) or chemotherapy management (4 children). Five major themes were identified. 1) Child and family context, and cannabis as a last resort: children were seen as severely ill; parents sought cannabis out of desperation and responsibility to their child. 2) Varied information sources informed decision-making: parents lacked resources from health care providers and sought support from social media, industry and other families. 3) Cannabis as an ambiguous medicine: cannabis was viewed as both a serious drug that doctors should prescribe and as a natural alternative health product, safe to pursue alone. 4) Perceived effects: parents perceived medical benefits with few concerns about adverse effects. 5) Legal and financial challenges: parents were willing to obtain cannabis despite high costs and uncertain legality. INTERPRETATION: Parents of children with severe conditions pursued medical cannabis despite obstacles and needed unbiased information to access alone. Scientific investigation is needed to develop pediatric medical guidelines to inform decisions.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

July 2021 List

Collection

Citation

Gibbard M; Mount D; Rassekh SR; Siden H, “Family attitudes about and experiences with medical cannabis in children with cancer or epilepsy: an exploratory qualitative study,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed September 23, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/17593.

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