Pregnant People's Perspectives On Cannabis Use During Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Integrative Mixed‐Methods Research Synthesis
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IntroductionRates of perinatal cannabis use are rising, despite clinical evidence about the potential for harm. Accordingly, pregnant and lactating people who perceive a benefit from cannabis use may have a difficult time making informed decisions about cannabis use.
MethodsWe conducted a systematic review of mixed-methods research to synthesize existing knowledge on the perspectives of pregnant people and their partners about cannabis use in pregnancy. Six health and social science databases were searched up until May 30, 2021. There were no methodological, time, or geographic limits applied. We employed a convergent integrative approach to the inductive analysis of findings from all studies.
ResultsWe identified 26 studies describing views of 17,781 pregnant and postpartum people about cannabis use in pregnancy. No studies describing the views of partners were identified, and only one study specifically addressed the perspectives of lactating people. Comparative analysis revealed that whether cannabis was studied alone or grouped with other substances resulted in significant diversity in descriptions of participant decision-making priorities and perceptions of risks and benefits. Studies of cannabis alone demonstrated a complex decision-making process whereby perceived benefits are balanced against the available information about risk, which is often unclear and uncertain. Clear and helpful information was difficult to identify, and health care providers were not described as a helpful and trusted resource for decision-making.
DiscussionDecision-making about cannabis use is difficult for pregnant and lactating people who perceive a benefit from this use, although this decisional difficulty is seldom reflected in studies that examine cannabis as one of multiple substances that pregnant or lactating people may use. Our review suggests several approaches clinicians may take to encourage open and supportive conversations to facilitate informed decisions about cannabis use during the perinatal period.
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