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1.  A survey of cannabis (marijuana) use and self-reported benefit in men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome 
Canadian Urological Association Journal  2014;8(11-12):E901-E905.
Introduction:
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is a chronic pelvic pain condition largely refractory to treatment. Cannabis (marijuana) use has been reported for a wide variety of chronic pain conditions, but no study has examined prevalence of cannabis use, symptom benefit or side effects, or frequency in CP/CPPS.
Methods:
Participants were recruited from an outpatient CP/CPPS urology clinic (n = 98) and online through the Prostatitis Foundation website (n = 244). Participants completed questionnaires (demographics, CP/CPPS, depression, cannabis).
Results:
The clinic sample included Canadian patients and the online sample included primarily American patients. Due to differences, groups were examined separately. Almost 50% of respondents reported using cannabis (clinic n = 49; online n = 89). Of the cannabis users, 36.8% of clinic and 75% of online respondents reported that it improved their symptoms. Most of the respondents (from the clinic and online groups) reported that cannabis improved their mood, pain, muscle spasms, and sleep. However, they did not note any improvements for weakness, fatigue, numbness, ambulation, and urination. Overall, the effectiveness of cannabis for CP/CPPS was “somewhat/very effective” (57% clinic; 63% online). There were no differences between side effects or choice of consumption and most reported using cannabis rarely.
Conclusions:
These are the first estimates in men suffering from CP/CPPS and suggest that while cannabis use is prevalent, its medical use and benefit are unknown. This is an understudied area and the benefit or hazard for cannabis use awaits further study.
doi:10.5489/cuaj.2268
PMCID: PMC4277530  PMID: 25553163
2.  Improving undergraduate medical education about pain assessment and management: A qualitative descriptive study of stakeholders’ perceptions 
BACKGROUND
Pain is one of the most common reasons for individuals to seek medical advice, yet it remains poorly managed. One of the main reasons that poor pain management persists is the lack of adequate knowledge and skills of practicing clinicians, which stems from a perceived lack of pain education during the training of undergraduate medical students.
OBJECTIVE:
To identify gaps in knowledge with respect to pain management as perceived by students, patients and educators.
METHODS:
A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. Data were generated through six focus groups with second- and fourth-year medical students, four focus groups with patients and individual semistructured interviews with nine educators. All interviews were audiotaped and an inductive thematic analysis was performed.
RESULTS:
A total of 70 individuals participated in the present study. Five main themes were identified: assessment of physical and psychosocial aspects of pain; clinical management of pain with pharmacology and alternative therapies; communication and the development of a good therapeutic relationship; ethical considerations surrounding pain; and institutional context of medical education about pain.
CONCLUSION:
Participating patients, students and pain experts recognized a need for additional medical education about pain assessment and management. Educational approaches need to teach students to gather appropriate information about pain, to acquire knowledge of a broad spectrum of therapeutic options, to develop a mutual, trusting relationship with patients and to become aware of their own biases and prejudice toward patients with pain. The results of the present study should be used to develop and enhance existing pain curricula content.
PMCID: PMC3805349  PMID: 23985579
Medical education; Pain management; Qualitative research
3.  Pharmacy study of natural health product adverse reactions (SONAR): a cross-sectional study using active surveillance in community pharmacies to detect adverse events associated with natural health products and assess causality 
BMJ Open  2014;4(3):e003431.
Objectives
To investigate the rates and causality of adverse event(s) (AE) associated with natural health product (NHP) use, prescription drug use and concurrent NHP-drug use through active surveillance in community pharmacies.
Design
Cross-sectional study of screened patients.
Setting
10 community pharmacies across Alberta and British Columbia, Canada from 14 January to 30 July 2011.
Participants
The participating pharmacy staff screened consecutive patients, or agents of patients, who were dropping or picking up prescription medications.
Primary outcome measures
Patients were screened to determine the proportions of them using prescription drugs and/or NHPs, as well as their respective AE rates. All AEs reported by the screened patients who took a NHP, consented to, and were available for, a detailed telephone interview (14%) were adjudicated fully to assess for causality.
Results
Over a total of 105 pharmacy weeks and 1118 patients screened, 410 patients reported taking prescription drugs only (36.7%; 95% CI 33.9% to 39.5%), 37 reported taking NHPs only (3.3%; 95% CI 2.4% to 4.5%) and 657 reported taking prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently (58.8%; 95% CI 55.9% to 61.6%). In total, 54 patients reported an AE, representing 1.2% (95% CI 0.51% to 2.9%), 2.7% (95% CI 0.4% to 16.9%) and 7.3% (95% CI 5.6% to 9.6%) of each population, respectively. Compared with patients who reported using prescription drugs, the patients who reported using prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently were 6.4 times more likely to experience an AE (OR; 95% CI 2.52 to 16.17; p<0.001). Combined with data from Ontario, Canada, a national proportion was calculated, which found that 45.4% (95% CI 43.8% to 47.0%) of Canadians who visit community pharmacies take NHPs and prescription drugs concurrently, and of those, 7.4% (95% CI 6.3% to 8.8%) report an AE.
Conclusions
A substantial proportion of community pharmacy patients use prescription drugs and NHPs concurrently; these patients are at a greater risk of experiencing an AE. Active surveillance provides a means of detecting such AEs and collecting high-quality data on which causality assessment can be based.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003431
PMCID: PMC3975764  PMID: 24682573
Complementary Medicine; Toxicology
5.  Study of Natural Health Product Adverse Reactions (SONAR): Active Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Concurrent Natural Health Product and Prescription Drug Use in Community Pharmacies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45196.
Background
Many consumers use natural health products (NHPs) concurrently with prescription medications. As NHP-related harms are under-reported through passive surveillance, the safety of concurrent NHP-drug use remains unknown. To conduct active surveillance in participating community pharmacies to identify adverse events related to concurrent NHP-prescription drug use.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Participating pharmacists asked individuals collecting prescription medications about (i) concurrent NHP/drug use in the previous three months and (ii) experiences of adverse events. If an adverse event was identified and if the patient provided written consent, a research pharmacist conducted a guided telephone interview to gather additional information after obtaining additional verbal consent and documenting so within the interview form. Over a total of 112 pharmacy weeks, 2615 patients were screened, of which 1037 (39.7%; 95% CI: 37.8% to 41.5%) reported concurrent NHP and prescription medication use. A total of 77 patients reported a possible AE (2.94%; 95% CI: 2.4% to 3.7%), which represents 7.4% of those using NHPs and prescription medications concurrently (95%CI: 6.0% to 9.2%). Of 15 patients available for an interview, 4 (26.7%: 95% CI: 4.3% to 49.0%) reported an AE that was determined to be “probably” due to NHP use.
Conclusions/Significance
Active surveillance markedly improves identification and reporting of adverse events associated with concurrent NHP-drug use. Although not without challenges, active surveillance is feasible and can generate adverse event data of sufficient quality to allow for meaningful adjudication to assess potential harms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045196
PMCID: PMC3461007  PMID: 23028841
6.  Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial 
Background
Chronic neuropathic pain affects 1%–2% of the adult population and is often refractory to standard pharmacologic treatment. Patients with chronic pain have reported using smoked cannabis to relieve pain, improve sleep and improve mood.
Methods
Adults with post-traumatic or postsurgical neuropathic pain were randomly assigned to receive cannabis at four potencies (0%, 2.5%, 6% and 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol) over four 14-day periods in a crossover trial. Participants inhaled a single 25-mg dose through a pipe three times daily for the first five days in each cycle, followed by a nine-day washout period. Daily average pain intensity was measured using an 11-point numeric rating scale. We recorded effects on mood, sleep and quality of life, as well as adverse events.
Results
We recruited 23 participants (mean age 45.4 [standard deviation 12.3] years, 12 women [52%]), of whom 21 completed the trial. The average daily pain intensity, measured on the 11-point numeric rating scale, was lower on the prespecified primary contrast of 9.4% v. 0% tetrahydrocannabinol (5.4 v. 6.1, respectively; difference = 0.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.02–1.4). Preparations with intermediate potency yielded intermediate but nonsignificant degrees of relief. Participants receiving 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol reported improved ability to fall asleep (easier, p = 0.001; faster, p < 0.001; more drowsy, p = 0.003) and improved quality of sleep (less wakefulness, p = 0.01) relative to 0% tetrahydrocannabinol. We found no differences in mood or quality of life. The most common drug-related adverse events during the period when participants received 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol were headache, dry eyes, burning sensation in areas of neuropathic pain, dizziness, numbness and cough.
Conclusion
A single inhalation of 25 mg of 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol herbal cannabis three times daily for five days reduced the intensity of pain, improved sleep and was well tolerated. Further long-term safety and efficacy studies are indicated. (International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Register no. ISRCTN68314063)
doi:10.1503/cmaj.091414
PMCID: PMC2950205  PMID: 20805210
7.  IN-CAM Outcomes Database: Its Relevance and Application in Massage Therapy Research and Practice 
One of the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities in North America is massage therapy (MT). Research to date indicates many potential health benefits of MT, suggesting that ongoing research efforts to further elucidate and substantiate preliminary findings within the massage profession should be given high priority. Central to the development of a sound evidence base for MT are the use of valid, reliable, and relevant outcome measures in research, and practice in assessing the effectiveness of MT. The purpose of the present article is to introduce MT researchers and massage therapists interested in using outcome measures in research and clinical practice to the IN-CAM Outcomes Database website by describing the Outcomes Database and identifying its utility in MT research and practice. The IN-CAM Outcomes Database is a centralized location where information on outcome measures is collected and made accessible to users. Outcome measures are organized in the database within the Framework of Outcome Domains. The Framework includes health domains relevant to conventional medicine and CAM alike, and health domains that have been identified as important to CAM interventions. Users of the website may search for information on a specific outcome measure, plan research projects, and engage in discussions related to outcomes assessment in the CAM field with other users and with members of the CAM research community. As the MT profession continues to evolve and move toward evidence-informed practice, the IN-CAM Outcomes Database website can be a valuable resource for MT researchers and massage therapists.
PMCID: PMC3091455  PMID: 21589721
Massage therapy; research; practice; health outcomes; outcomes database
8.  Intravenous Lidocaine for Refractory Chronic Orofacial Pain 
This report presents the results of treatment of two adults, at the Pain Center of Montreal General Hospital, Canada, with intravenous lidocaine for intractable orofacial pain. Repeated lidocaine infusions (1mg/kg in a bolus, followed by 4mg/kg infused over 1 hour) resulted in satisfactory pain relief in both patients, and the drug was well tolerated. Intravenous lidocaine therapy may be considered for intractable orofacial pain; further research is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3074817  PMID: 21748060
Facial pain; Lidocaine; Therapeutics; Humans; Review; Literature; Case reports; Canada
9.  Adverse effects of medical cannabinoids: a systematic review 
Background
The therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabis-based medicines raises safety concerns for patients, clinicians, policy-makers, insurers, researchers and regulators. Although the efficacy of cannabinoids is being increasingly demonstrated in randomized controlled trials, most safety information comes from studies of recreational use.
Methods
We performed a systematic review of safety studies of medical cannabinoids published over the past 40 years to create an evidence base for cannabis-related adverse events and to facilitate future cannabis research initiatives. We critically evaluated the quality of published studies with a view to identifying ways to improve future studies.
Results
A total of 321 articles were eligible for evaluation. After excluding those that focused on recreational cannabis use, we included 31 studies (23 randomized controlled trials and 8 observational studies) of medical cannabis use in our analysis. In the 23 randomized controlled trials, the median duration of cannabinoid exposure was 2 weeks (range 8 hours to 12 months). A total of 4779 adverse events were reported among participants assigned to the intervention. Most (4615 [96.6%]) were not serious. Of the 164 serious adverse events, the most common was relapse of multiple sclerosis (21 events [12.8%]), vomiting (16 events [9.8%]) and urinary tract infection (15 events [9.1%]). The rate of nonserious adverse events was higher among participants assigned to medical cannabinoids than among controls (rate ratio [RR] 1.86, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.57–2.21); the rates of serious adverse events did not differ significantly between these 2 groups (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.78–1.39). Dizziness was the most commonly reported nonserious adverse event (714 events [15.5%]) among people exposed to cannabinoids.
Interpretation
Short-term use of existing medical cannabinoids appeared to increase the risk of nonserious adverse events. The risks associated with long-term use were poorly characterized in published clinical trials and observational studies. High-quality trials of long-term exposure are required to further characterize safety issues related to the use of medical cannabinoids.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.071178
PMCID: PMC2413308  PMID: 18559804
10.  A review of nabilone in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting 
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in cancer patients places a significant burden on patients’ function and quality of life, their families and caregivers, and healthcare providers. Despite the advances in preventing CINV, a substantial proportion of patients experience persistent nausea and vomiting. Nabilone, a cannabinoid, recently received Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy who fail to achieve adequate relief from conventional treatments. The cannabinoids exert antiemetic effects via agonism of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Clinical trials have demonstrated the benefits of nabilone in cancer chemotherapy patients. Use of the agent is optimized with judicious dosing and selection of patients.
PMCID: PMC2503671  PMID: 18728826
nabilone; chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting; pain
11.  Response 
Canadian Family Physician  2007;53(2):218.
PMCID: PMC1949112
14.  Evaluating complementary and alternative medicine interventions: in search of appropriate patient-centered outcome measures 
Background
Central to the development of a sound evidence base for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) interventions is the need for valid, reliable and relevant outcome measures to assess whether the interventions work. We assessed the specific needs for a database that would cover a wide range of outcomes measures for CAM research and considered a framework for such a database.
Methods
The study was a survey of CAM researchers, practitioners and students. An online questionnaire was emailed to the members of the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for CAM Research (IN-CAM) and the CAM Education and Research Network of Alberta (CAMera). The majority of survey questions were open-ended and asked about outcome measures currently used, outcome measures' assessment criteria, sources of information, perceived barriers to finding outcome measures and outcome domains of importance. Descriptive quantitative analysis and qualitative content analysis were used.
Results
One hundred and sixty-four completed surveys were received. Of these, 62 respondents reported using outcome measures in their CAM research and identified 92 different specific outcomes. The most important barriers were the fact that, for many health concepts, outcome measures do not yet exist, as well as issues related to accessibility of instruments. Important outcome domains identified included physical, psychological, social, spiritual, quality of life and holistic measures. Participants also mentioned the importance of individualized measures that assess unique patient-centered outcomes for each research participant, and measures to assess the context of healing and the process of healing.
Conclusion
We have developed a preliminary framework that includes all components of health-related outcomes. The framework provides a foundation for a larger, comprehensive collection of CAM outcomes. It fits very well in a whole systems perspective, which requires an expanded set of outcome measures, such as individualized and holistic measures, with attention to issues of process and context.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-38
PMCID: PMC1661594  PMID: 17118197
15.  Evaluation of herbal cannabis characteristics by medical users: a randomized trial 
Background
Cannabis, in herbal form, is widely used as self-medication by patients with diseases such as HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis suffering from symptoms including pain, muscle spasticity, stress and insomnia. Valid clinical studies of herbal cannabis require a product which is acceptable to patients in order to maximize adherence to study protocols.
Methods
We conducted a randomized controlled crossover trial of 4 different herbal cannabis preparations among 8 experienced and authorized cannabis users with chronic pain. Preparations were varied with respect to grind size, THC content and humidity. Subjects received each preparation on a separate day and prepared the drug in their usual way in a dedicated and licensed clinical facility. They were asked to evaluate the products based on appearance (smell, colour, humidity, grind size, ease of preparation and overall appearance) and smoking characteristics (burn rate, hotness, harshness and taste). Five-point Likert scores were assigned to each characteristic. Scores were compared between preparations using ANOVA.
Results
Seven subjects completed the study, and the product with highest THC content (12%), highest humidity (14%) and largest grind size (10 mm) was rated highest overall. Significant differences were noted between preparations on overall appearance and colour (p = 0.003).
Discussion
While the small size of the study precludes broad conclusions, the study shows that medical cannabis users can appreciate differences in herbal product. A more acceptable cannabis product may increase recruitment and retention in clinical studies of medical cannabis.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-3-32
PMCID: PMC1654142  PMID: 17101054

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