Making informed choices about cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation: A qualitative study of information use
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BackgroundCannabis use during pregnancy and lactation continues to increase as some perceive cannabis to be helpful for symptom management and coping. As such, pregnant and lactating people are faced with challenging decisions, weighing benefits against the potential risks of cannabis use. To help clinicians facilitate informed choices, we explored the self-identified information needs of pregnant and lactating people who are deciding whether or not to use cannabis. We aimed to describe the modes and sources of their information-seeking and their satisfaction with the information they found.
MethodsWe interviewed 52 people in Canada who made the decision to start, stop, or continue using cannabis during pregnancy and lactation. Participants were recruited from advertisements in prenatal clinics and on social media. We utilized an inductive approach to analysis focused on information used in decision-making about cannabis use, including the process of seeking and evaluating that information.
ResultsParticipants were deliberate in their search for information, most commonly seeking information on risks of use. Information sources were mainly online material or people in their social networks. Clinicians were not commonly described as a knowledgeable or supportive source of information. Overwhelmingly, participants described the information they found as insufficient and emphasized the need for more comprehensive and trustworthy sources of information.
ConclusionsParticipants identified distinct and unmet information needs associated with their decision to use cannabis. They described a desire for clear evidence about the impact of cannabis use, including information about how to balance the benefits they perceived from cannabis use with the risks of harm.
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