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Vanstone to lead research on informing cannabis use in pregnancy

11 Dec 2019

Congratulations to CHEPA member Meredith Vanstone, the Principal Investigator on a newly-funded study entitled "Encouraging informed decisions about cannabis use in pregnancy: Educational needs of women and prenatal care providers." 

The $243,000 research initiative is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), with matched funds from McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine and the McMaster Education Research, Innovation and Theory (MERIT) Program.

Cannabis is a commonly used non-prescribed substance in pregnancy; rates of use are likely to continue to increase with legalization and the development of new CBD-based products. Despite the ubiquity of cannabis use in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, very little is known about maternal and neonatal outcomes of use; there is little evidence on the motivation for cannabis use, and a clear prevalence of use in Canadian pregnant women has not been established. This lack of information presents a challenge for informed decision-making by pregnant and lactating women and their prenatal health care providers. The research will develop knowledge, education materials, and harm reduction strategies to encourage informed choices about cannabis consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The research will be conducted in three parts, with these objectives:
1) Synthesize existing evidence on cannabis-using women’s perspectives about using cannabis during pregnancy and lactation;
2) Describe women’s process of making a decision about cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation, and identify women’s education needs and preferred sources of information;
3) Understand barriers and facilitators experienced by primary prenatal care providers regarding counselling about cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation; identify education needs to improve counselling approach.

The research outcomes will be used to support prenatal care providers in helping pregnant and lactating women make informed decisions about cannabis use, through the creation of evidence-based educational tools for use by patients and prenatal care providers that include clinical, experiential, and social information. As well, each of the three studies will produce academic products and policy briefs for relevant decision-makers.

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