A new study has found the New South Wales Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service (NSW CMAS) is perceived as useful by healthcare practitioners who engage with it largely for patient advice. 

NSW CMAS was established in 2018 by NSW Health and provides free, evidence-based clinical advice and guidance about cannabis medicines to registered healthcare professionals. 

To understand the effectiveness of the service, the study analysed “enquirer experiences with NSW CMAS and real-world cannabis medicine safety and effectiveness data in a variety of clinical indications”. 

The preliminary data was collected by two online surveys between January 2020 and June 2021, the first evaluating the health practitioner (enquirer) experience, and the second patient outcomes. 

Study participants included NSW registered health professionals spanning medical practitioners, nurses and pharmacists who made an inquiry to NSW CMAS. 

The first survey included 68 participants and found the most common reasons for engaging in the service were patient-specific advice (74%), cannabis medicine prescribing advice (43%) and evidence-based literature review (31%). 

A majority of participants described the service as useful (82%), practical (59%) and evidence-based (59%). 

The second survey included 50 participants and found patient-specific information was mostly used for supporting prescribing decisions (90%) for a broad range of indications. 

Chronic-non cancer pain was the most frequent indication for medicinal cannabis treatment (70%), followed by insomnia (13%) and palliative care (13%). 

The authors said the preliminary survey data provided a “unique snapshot of enquirer perceptions and the impact of a novel cannabis medicines drug information service.”

While the sample size is currently small, the authors noted that with more time, there will be an accumulation of experiences with NSW CMAS which will allow for analysis of a larger sample.

The study has been accepted into the Internal Medicine Journal.

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...