A Survey of Hospice Professionals Regarding Medical Cannabis Practices
Introduction: With medical cannabis (MC) remaining illegal at the federal level, hospice programs are unsure how to handle requests for MC, particularly since hospice is largely funded with federal dollars. The purpose of this survey was to determine respondents’ comfort level with MC use in hospice, what processes and logistics hospice programs are employing when dealing with MC, and to determine what, if any, education hospice programs are providing to their staff. Methods: An anonymous online survey assessed a variety of factors surrounding hospice staff practice, experience, and opinions regarding MC. The survey was disseminated to employees of clients of a large hospice benefit manager as well as through a national hospice and palliative medicine professional organization. Results: Three hundred ten hospice professionals responded to the survey. More than half of the respondents were nurses followed by administrators and physicians. Regardless of legal status, hospice staff members were overwhelmingly in agreement that MC is appropriate for hospice patients to have access to and use. Several barriers to use were identified including discordant legal status between state and federal governments, concerns about clinical efficacy and safety, and a myriad of other societal factors. Wide variations in MC documentation and education practices between hospices were noted. Discussion: The data suggest overwhelming support for MC use in the hospice setting. Our findings highlight important opportunities to support hospice providers and their patients through education and the development of policies around MC.