Cannabis Use by People Living with Arthritis

Understanding How Cannabis Use May Affect Arthritis Symptoms

The Problem

Existing research suggests that using cannabis can reduce pain, stress, anxiety, and improve sleep, all of which are relevant to people living with arthritis. However, little research has been conducted evaluating cannabis use specifically in people with arthritis.

The Solution

Exploring how arthritis symptoms and other factors, like stress, poor sleep, anxiety, and depression, differ between people with arthritis who use cannabis regularly and those who don’t, can help us understand why people with arthritis choose to use cannabis and how it may affect their disease. This is important for healthcare decision-making, patient education, and treatment options.

The Research

By conducting an online survey of health behaviours involving Canadians with osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis, we collected data on cannabis use, sleep quality, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue, arthritis activity/severity, and overall health to examine relationships between.

Research Details

Our study included 264 participants, primarily women, with an average age of 61. About one person in four (27%) reported regular cannabis use, with men being more than twice as likely to report such use.

We found that despite previous research showing the potential benefits of cannabis for arthritis symptoms, regular cannabis use was not associated with improved symptoms or better sleep quality. Additionally, factors like stress, mood, and arthritis symptoms did not predict regular cannabis use.

Findings from this study suggest that we need to continue to conduct research to understand why people with arthritis turn to cannabis and how it affects their condition.


Research Scientist

Deborah Da Costa

Deborah Da Costa

Research Scientist, Psychology, PhD

Dr. Deborah Da Costa is a scientist at the Research Institute, McGill University Health Centre and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Her research focuses on the interplay between modifiable psychosocial and behavioural (e.g. exercise) factors and health status in various chronic illnesses and in relation to depression in populations at risk. This has laid the foundation for the knowledge-transfer phase of her program which focuses on tailoring and evaluating evidence-based e-health interventions to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to optimize their health and wellness.

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