Knowledge and attitudes towards medicinal cannabis and complementary and integrative medicine (CIM): a survey of healthcare professionals working in a cancer hospital in Australia

Suzanne J. Grant*, Maria Gonzalez, Gillian Heller, Sarah Soliman, Gretel Spiegel, Judith Lacey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: We investigated attitudes and practices of healthcare professionals (HCPs) to medicinal cannabis (MC) and complementary and integrative medicine (CIM), including individual therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, herbs, dietary supplements, nutrition and exercise. We explored whether healthcare occupation influenced attitudes to CIM and MC; referral pathways for advice on CIM; and interest in a pharmacy service to evaluate herbs and supplements.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey. All clinical staff at a comprehensive cancer hospital were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire about CIM and MC. We used descriptive analysis to describe the respondent’s knowledge and attitudes, and Fisher’s exact test to test for differences by occupation, length of time at the hospital and age.

Results: Most of the 116 HCPs respondents supported integrating CIM into cancer care (94.8%) and wanted to learn more (90%) and to understand benefits and contraindications. Most respondents believed that CIM (87.9%) could benefit patients with cancer, and MC could benefit those with advanced cancer (49–51%). Whilst just over half (52.6%) felt confident discussing CIM with patients, only 10% felt they had sufficient knowledge to discuss MC. Most felt they did not have sufficient knowledge to specifically discuss mind and body practices (63.8%) or herbs and supplements (79%). HCPs (63%) would be more inclined to allow use of herbs and supplements with cancer treatment if a pharmacy service was available to evaluate interactions. Occupation, length of time at hospital and age influenced confidence and knowledge about CIM.

Conclusions: The integration of evidence-based CIM and MC into cancer care is hampered by a lack of knowledge of benefits and contraindications, and gaps in education. Effective and safe integration may require targeted development of services such as pharmacy to evaluate the safety of herbs and supplements, and inclusion of cancer specialists who have received training in individual CIM therapies and MC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number623
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Attitudes
  • Cancer
  • Cannabis
  • Complementary therapies
  • Integrative medicine
  • Knowledge


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