Study Assesses Quality of Life After Cannabis Prescribed for Chronic Pain and Other Health Symptoms Interview with:
Margaret-Ann Tait | PhD candidate
Project Manager, The QUEST Initiative
Research Manager, Faculty of Medicine and Health
Sydney Nursing School, Cancer Care Research Unit
University of Sydney What is the background for this study?

Response: In 2016 Australia passed legislation that allows cannabis use for medicinal purposes. Since then, an estimated 800,000 patients have received medicinal cannabis prescriptions. We wanted to know if patients with chronic health conditions in Australia are reporting their health outcomes differently after being prescribed medicinal cannabis. We used validated questionnaires to assess their health-related quality of life, levels of fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression before starting therapy and then at regular intervals for three months after. 

We had 2327 patients participating from across Australia aged between 18 and 97 (the average age was 51), and nearly two thirds were female. Half of our participants were prescribed medicinal cannabis for more than one condition, with chronic pain conditions reported more frequently, followed by insomnia, anxiety, and mixed anxiety & depression. What are the main findings?

Response: Within the first three months of medicinal cannabis therapy, participants reported improvements in their health-related quality of life and fatigue, and in health conditions associated with anxiety, depression, and pain. We did not observe any significant changes in sleep disturbance overall. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: In our study, patients with chronic conditions reported less symptom burden and improved health-related quality of life after being prescribed medicinal cannabis therapy. This is important because treatment for chronic illnesses is often about managing symptoms and maintaining a good quality of life. When patients with chronic conditions haven’t responded to first line treatments, clinicians and patients may want to consider trialling medicinal cannabis. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Real world studies that include comparison groups, such as standard care, are needed to determine whether medicinal cannabis therapy is effective. We also recommend further research on patients taking medicinal cannabis therapy for sleep disorders, and whether clinicians with more experience in prescribing medicinal cannabis have patients with better self-reported outcomes. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: As an observational study, we did not control for placebo effects and cannot know whether the observed improvements were due to medicinal cannabis or other factors.

The University of Sydney received funding from Little Green Pharma Ltd. to support this research. However, the study was independently investigator-led by University of Sydney researchers and the funder played no role in the study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the report; nor in the decision to submit the article for publication.


Health-related quality of life in patients accessing medicinal cannabis in Australia: The QUEST initiative results of a 3-month follow-up observational study
Tait MA, Costa DS, Campbell R, Norman R, Warne LN, et al. (2023) Health-related quality of life in patients accessing medicinal cannabis in Australia: The QUEST initiative results of a 3-month follow-up observational study. PLOS ONE 18(9): e0290549.

The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, endorse, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by