Out of the Weeds: An online webinar for health care provider education on the health effects of smoking cannabis

21 October 2022

Michael Smith Health Research BC’s Reach Program supports teams of researchers and research users to disseminate research evidence with those who can directly benefit from it in order to impact health and care in BC. In 2021 Dr. Amanda Hu, a clinical associate professor at UBC, and a research team received a Reach award last year to educate health practitioners about cannabis after its legalization in Canada in 2018. Dr. Hu and research assistant Simran Gill share details of the work behind the award.

By Amanda Hu and Simran Gill

The rapid legalization of cannabis four years ago led to a knowledge gap amongst health care practitioners. A review on health professionals’ knowledge regarding cannabis published in 2019 reported a unanimous lack of self-perceived knowledge of cannabis among physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

Recognizing this knowledge gap, we developed an online webinar to discuss the health effects of smoking cannabis. This webinar was designed for all health care providers, including physicians, nurses, counsellors, mental health workers, pharmacists, speech language pathologists, audiologists, as well as professional trainees, like residents and medical students.

A multidisciplinary panel of experts consisted of family medicine, pulmonary medicine, otolaryngology, pharmacy, speech language pathology, resident physicians, medical student trainees, and UBC’s associate dean of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Earlier this year, we hosted the 90-minute webinar, where the panelists delivered short didactic lectures, shared their experiences and recommended best practices to help physicians guide their patients to make informed choices on cannabis usage. The webinar was recorded for on-demand viewing.

The event was promoted on the university’s CPD website, departmental email lists, and on social media. An eight-week social media campaign preceded the webinar on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #CannabisAware. Key facts were illustrated and sent out each week, encouraging participants to learn more at the webinar. The event was hosted on a not-for-profit website for Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery continuing medical education (www.ENTCME.org).

To measure knowledge of cannabis, participants attending the webinar were asked to complete a 10-item knowledge test before and after the webinar. The multidisciplinary scientific programming committee created the knowledge test together to ensure that it covered all aspects of the information disclosed in the webinar, thus ensuring content validity. None of this would have been possible without the funding provided by the Reach award from Michael Smith Health Research BC.

In total, 607 health care professionals participated in the Out of the Weeds webinar. We will continue to monitor video views of the recording. This novel online educational activity increased knowledge and awareness of the health effects of cannabis amongst participating health care professionals and engaged learners virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most importantly, it contributed to our goal to help doctors guide patients to make informed, evidence-based choices on cannabis usage.

View a recording of the webinar
Learn more at www.entcme.org/cannabisaware

Read more about their Reach award
Find out more about Health Research BC funding competitions