Self-Efficacy in Researching and Obtaining Medical Cannabis by Patients With Chronic Conditions

John P. Brady, Douglas Bruce, Elissa Foster, Mona Shattell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Due to the increasing availability of medical-grade cannabis for treatment of chronic conditions, we examined how prospective users navigate the process of researching, procuring, and using cannabis. Given the barriers prospective users experience, self-efficacy may be a factor for those who incorporate cannabis into treatment. Aims. The purpose of this study was to identify behaviors associated with self-efficacy in the context of researching, procuring, and using cannabis. We analyzed narratives of patients who obtained legal medical cannabis in the currently complex medical, legal, and social landscape. Method. Data were collected through 30 telephone interviews utilizing a semistructured interview protocol, which were analyzed using inductive coding. The protocol emphasized four topics: (a) symptom management/pain reduction, (b) provider communication about chronic conditions/cannabis, (c) perspectives on medicinal cannabis and stigma, and (d) views on recreational cannabis. Results. Participants demonstrated self-efficacy in three contexts: (a) self-directed experimentation with cannabis strains, dosages, and administration methods; (b) managing care by selecting and educating their providers; and (c) information-seeking and research behaviors. Discussion. High self-efficacy may be an important factor in navigating the medical cannabis process. Results suggest that providers who are not prepared to partner with patients as they seek information about medical cannabis may be replaced by dispensaries and websites with expertise in cannabis but without understanding of patients’ medical conditions and individual needs. Conclusion. Patients with higher self-efficacy may engage in various activities to investigate, procure, experiment with, and incorporate medical cannabis into their condition management outside the purview of their providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-748
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • cannabis
  • chronic condition
  • health navigation
  • patient
  • provider
  • self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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