"I Use Weed for My ADHD": A Qualitative Analysis of Online Forum Discussions on Cannabis Use and ADHD.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a risk factor for problematic cannabis use. However, clinical and anecdotal evidence suggest an increasingly popular perception that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD, including via online resources. Given that the Internet is increasingly utilized as a source of healthcare information and may influence perceptions, we conducted a qualitative analysis of online forum discussions, also referred to as threads, on the effects of cannabis on ADHD to systematically characterize the content patients and caregivers may encounter about ADHD and cannabis. METHODS: A total of 268 separate forum threads were identified. Twenty percent (20%) were randomly selected, which yielded 55 separate forum threads (mean number of individual posts per forum thread = 17.53) scored by three raters (Cohen's kappa = 0.74). A final sample of 401 posts in these forum threads received at least one endorsement on predetermined topics following qualitative coding procedures. RESULTS: Twenty-five (25%) percent of individual posts indicated that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD, as opposed to 8% that it is harmful, 5% that it is both therapeutic and harmful, and 2% that it has no effect on ADHD. This pattern was generally consistent when the year of each post was considered. The greater endorsement of therapeutic versus harmful effects of cannabis did not generalize to mood, other (non-ADHD) psychiatric conditions, or overall domains of daily life. Additional themes emerged (e.g., cannabis being considered sanctioned by healthcare providers). CONCLUSIONS: Despite that there are no clinical recommendations or systematic research supporting the beneficial effects of cannabis use for ADHD, online discussions indicate that cannabis is considered therapeutic for ADHD-this is the first study to identify such a trend. This type of online information could shape ADHD patient and caregiver perceptions, and influence cannabis use and clinical care.

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Provenance

Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1371/journal.pone.0156614

Publication Info

Mitchell, John T, Maggie M Sweitzer, Angela M Tunno, Scott H Kollins and F Joseph McClernon (2016). "I Use Weed for My ADHD": A Qualitative Analysis of Online Forum Discussions on Cannabis Use and ADHD. PLoS One, 11(5). p. e0156614. 10.1371/journal.pone.0156614 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12559.

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Scholars@Duke

Mitchell

John T Mitchell

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Sweitzer

Maggie Sweitzer

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Tunno

Angela Marie Tunno

Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Angela M. Tunno is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor whose area of specialty include clinical, research, advocacy, policy, and social justice efforts focused on the impact of trauma and systemic inequities for children, youth, and families. In addition, she has a specific clinical and research focus on the intersection of trauma exposure and high-risk behavior (e.g., suicidal thoughts/behavior, substance use). Collaboration; partnering with youth, families, and adults; and cultural humility are at the foundation of her clinical, research, systems, and community work. She values true partnership and the importance of community-led efforts to build collective methods to prevention and intervention.

Kollins

Scott Haden Kollins

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Scott H. Kollins, PhD received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Duke and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology from Auburn University. After completing his clinical internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he served as Chief Intern, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University for three years, before joining the Duke faculty in 2000. Dr. Kollins has published more than 125 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.  Over the past 10 years, his research has been supported by 6 different federal agencies, including NICHD, NIDA, NIMH, NIEHS, NINDS, and EPA, and he currently holds a mid-career K24 award from NIDA.  He has also served as PI on more than 40 industry-funded clinical trials and is a consultant to a number of pharmaceutical companies in the area of ADHD clinical psychopharmacology.  He has served as a standing member of the Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities study section and also served as an ad-hoc reviewer for 10 additional NIH study sections and 7 international granting agencies. He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Attention Disorders and has reviewed for more than 50 different peer-reviewed journals. He is an elected member of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. Kollins is a licensed clinical psychologist and maintains a practice through the ADHD Program’s outpatient clinic. His research interests are in the areas of psychopharmacology and the intersection of ADHD and substance abuse, particularly cigarette smoking.

McClernon

F Joseph McClernon

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Joseph McClernon, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and founder/director of the Center for Addiction Science and Technology (CfAST). In his four years with the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) he has served as director of the Evaluation and Strategic Planning core, interim co-director of the Team Science core, and director of the Integration and Strategic Partnerships pillar. During his tenure with CTSI, his leadership has been critical to building a culture of evaluation and continuous improvement, in strengthening the institute’s partnership with North Carolina Central University and other regional partners, and in planning strategy and development for the institute. 

 Dr. McClernon earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2001 from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke in 2002. He served as Director of the Addiction Division in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences from 2012-2020. His research is focused on increasing our understanding of tobacco use, developing new and more effective interventions to nicotine dependence, and informing the FDA’s regulation of tobacco products. He has served as a site-PI and Co-I for more than ten years in the Center for the Evaluation of Nicotine in Cigarettes (CENIC)— a national consortium that has provided the bulk of evidence to the FDA for informing national policies that will reduce nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, thus saving millions of lives. Dr. McClernon is now leading efforts to transition CENIC’s focus to public health interventions that ensure the new policy will be implemented in ways that enable equitable outcomes for marginalized groups. Other regulatory science research has evaluated the effects of nicotine in cigarettes on a model of cigarette experimentation, the impact of flavors in cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and the influence of product characteristics and policy on multiple tobacco product use. He has led other groundbreaking research on the influence of drug-associated environments on drug use, relapse, and treatment; tobacco use disparities among individuals with comorbid psychiatric (e.g., ADHD, serious mental illness) and health (e.g., HIV; chronic pain) problems.

Dr. McClernon has actively mentored early career individuals from high school students through early career faculty. His former postdoctoral fellows are faculty or staff scientists at academic medical centers, government agencies, and research institutes. He has been continuously NIH-, FDA-, and foundation- funded since 2002. He has authored/co-authored more than 170 peer-reviewed publications, has two patents, has served as chair of NIH grant review panels, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Jarvik-Russell New Investigator Award.


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