Use and Perceptions of Opioids Versus Marijuana among Cancer Survivors

Abstract

Public health concerns regarding opioids and marijuana have implications for their medical use. This study examined use motives and perceived barriers in relation to opioid and marijuana use and interest in use among US adult cancer survivors. Self-administered surveys were distributed using social media to assess use motives and perceived barriers among participants living with cancer. Overall, 40.9% of cancer survivors reported current (past 30-day) use of opioids, 42.5% used marijuana, and 39.7% used both. The most common use motives for either/both drugs were to cope with pain and stress/anxiety (>70%). Highest-rated barriers to using either/both drugs were missing symptoms of worsening illness and not wanting to talk about their symptoms. Controlling for sociodemographics, binary logistic regression indicated that current opioid use was associated with reporting greater barriers to use (OR = 1.17, p = .011; Nagelkerke R-square = .934) and that current marijuana use was associated with reporting greater barriers to use (OR = 1.37, p = .003; Nagelkerke R-square = .921). Cancer survivors report various use motives and barriers to use regarding opioids and marijuana. While use motives and barriers for both drugs were similar, these constructs were differentially associated with use and interest in use across drugs. Understanding patients’ perceptions about opioids and marijuana is an essential component to effectively manage symptoms related to a cancer diagnosis and improve quality of life for cancer survivors.

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Availability of Data and Material

Data is available by request.

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SPSS code is available by request .

Funding

This research was supported by the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute Research Seed Grant Program (now the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance) (PHS Grant UL1TR000454 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH). Dr. Berg is also supported by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) (R01CA215155-01A1, PI: Berg; R01CA179422–01, PI: Berg; R01CA239178-01A1, MPIs: Berg, Levine), the US Fogarty International Center/National Institutes of Health (NIH) (1R01TW010664–01, MPIs: Berg, Kegler), and the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/Fogarty International Center (D43ES030927–01, MPIs: Berg, Marsit, Sturua). Ms. Vu. is supported by NCI (F31 CA243220–01, PI: Vu). Dr. Yeager is supported by NIH (1 R01 CA236871–01, PI: Yeager; U10CA180868 PiIs: Wolmark, Curran, Mannel; 1 R01 AG061971–01, PI: Hepburn and P30NR018090–02, PI: Song).

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Dr. Berg led data collection, data analysis, and conceptualization of the overall project and paper, and co-led the writing of the paper. J. Potts led the writing of the paper. B. Getachew co-led data collection. B. Getachew, E. Nehl, K. Yeager, C. Leach, and M. Vu contributed to the analyses and writing of the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Carla J Berg.

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The Emory University Institutional Review Board approved this study, IRB00095978.

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Potts, J.M., Getachew, B., Vu, M. et al. Use and Perceptions of Opioids Versus Marijuana among Cancer Survivors. J Canc Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01791-5

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Keywords

  • Opioid
  • Marijuana, patient perspectives
  • Cancer survivors