University of Sydney researchers have launched a wide-ranging, longitudinal study for medicinal cannabis patients, funded by Little Green Pharma.

The QUEST Initiative (Quality of life Evaluation Study) aims to be one of the world’s largest studies examining quality of life outcomes in patients prescribed medicinal cannabis.

Study lead Associate Professor Claudia Rutherford

The team plans to recruit at least 2,100 patients – the minimum sample size for statistical relevance – by June 2021, with the potential to extend the study internationally.

Study lead Associate Professor Claudia Rutherford said: “What makes our study unique is the comprehensive suite of patient-reported outcomes being assessed in patients prescribed medicinal cannabis.”

The QUEST Initiative seeks to assess changes in patient conditions and symptoms using self-reported quality-of-life outcomes. Information on patient mobility, functionality, pain/discomfort, anxiety, depression, medication requirements and ongoing health costs will be collected and analysed.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said: “The QUEST Initiative represents a significant Australian contribution to the global need for reliable, objective and clinically relevant quality-of-life data for patients accessing medicinal cannabis treatments for a broad range of chronic conditions.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt: looking forward to reviewing the results

“It is also commendable to see an entirely home-grown Australian study supported by a leading Australian higher educational institution, advocacy groups and industry participants. I look forward to reviewing the results of the study in due course.”

Open until March 2022, the QUEST Initiative is the first study of a comprehensive suite of quality-of-life measures in Australia of patients prescribed medicinal cannabis for all allowable conditions under the Special Access Scheme.

It is endorsed by a range of national bodies including MS Research Australia, Chronic Pain Australia, Arthritis Australia, Epilepsy Action Australia and Health Insurance Fund of Australia.

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