Cannabis education needs assessment among Canadian physicians-in-training.

Cannabis education needs assessment among Canadian physicians-in-training.


Michelle St. Pierre, Liam Matthews, Zach Walsh

Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine

March 2020



Since 1999, the Canadian courts have recognized the rights of patients to access cannabis for therapeutic purposes (CTP). Due to the increasing interest in the use of CTP, competency with the topic among health care providers is essential. As concerns mount around the role of industry involvement in cannabis education, it has become increasingly important for medical schools to provide physicians-in-training balanced evidence regarding the harms and benefits of CTP. In the present study, we surveyed Canadian physicians-in-training regarding their knowledge, experience, attitudes, and barriers surrounding CTP.

Survey questions were adapted from extant physician and nurse practitioner education needs assessments. We invited representatives from all 17 Canadian universities with a Faculty of Medicine to electronically distribute the survey to physicians-in-training.

The survey was accessed by 93 physicians-in-training of whom 76 provided responses (46 % female; Mage = 28, SD = 3.03). Physicians-in-training reported receiving significantly less instruction on CTP than they desired. Responses demonstrated differences between current and desired knowledge across all domains queried. More education was the factor identified as most likely to increase comfort authorizing and discussing CTP with patients.

Findings from this study demonstrate an expressed desire for more education surrounding CTP among a self-selected sample of Canadian physicians-in-training. There was a substantial divergence between current and desired levels of knowledge, and the largest gaps related to creating effective treatment plans and understanding the risks and benefits of CTP. Improving the educational opportunities of students will improve standard-of-care for patients.


DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102328



St. Pierre M, Matthews L, Walsh Z. Cannabis education needs assessment among Canadian physicians-in-training. Complement Ther Med. 2020;49:102328. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102328