Cannabis use among workers with work-related injuries and illnesses: results from a cross-sectional study of workers' compensation claimants in Ontario, Canada

Publication type
Journal article
Carnide N, Nadalin V, Mustard C, Severin C, Furlan AD, Smith PM
Date published
2023 Jul 01
BMJ Open
Open Access?

OBJECTIVES: Little is known about how workers use cannabis following a work-related injury/illness, including whether they receive clinical guidance. The objective was to compare characteristics of workers using and not using cannabis after a work-related injury/illness and describe use patterns. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Workers who experienced a work-related physical injury/illness resulting in one or more days of lost time compensated by the workers' compensation authority in Ontario, Canada (n=1196). METHODS: Participants were interviewed 18 or 36 months after their injury/illness. Participants were asked about their past-year cannabis use, including whether use was for the treatment of their work-related condition. Sociodemographic, work and health characteristics were compared across cannabis groups: no past-year use; use for the work-related condition; use unrelated to the work-related condition. Cannabis use reasons, patterns, perceived impact and healthcare provider engagement were described. RESULTS: In total, 27.4% of the sample reported using cannabis (14.1% for their work-related condition). Workers using cannabis for their condition were less likely to be working (58.0%) and more likely to have quite a bit/extreme pain interference (48.5%), psychological distress (26.0%) and sleep problems most/all the time (62.1%) compared with those not using cannabis (74.3%, 26.3%, 12.0% and 38.0%, respectively) and those using cannabis for other reasons (74.2%, 19.5%, 12.0% and 37.1%, respectively) (all p<0.0001). No significant differences were observed in medical authorisations for use among those using cannabis for their condition (20.4%) or unrelated to their condition (15.7%) (p=0.3021). Healthcare provider guidance was more common among those using cannabis for their condition (32.7%) compared with those using for other reasons (17.1%) (p=0.0024); however, two-thirds of this group did not receive guidance. CONCLUSIONS: Cannabis may be used to manage the consequences of work-related injuries/illnesses, yet most do not receive clinical guidance. It is important that healthcare providers speak with injured workers about their cannabis use