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

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          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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          Most cited references46

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          The Measurement of Observer Agreement for Categorical Data

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            What's in a name? Qualitative description revisited.

            "Whatever Happened to Qualitative Description?" (Sandelowski, 2000) was written to critique the prevailing tendency in qualitative health research to claim the use of methods that were not actually used and to clarify a methodological approach rarely identified as a distinctive method. The article has generated several misconceptions, most notably that qualitative description requires no interpretation of data. At the root of these misconceptions is the persistent challenge of defining qualitative research methods. Qualitative description is a "distributed residual category" (Bowker & Star, 2000). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press) in the classification of these methods. Its value lies not only in the knowledge its use can produce, but also as a vehicle for presenting and treating research methods as living entities that resist simple classification.
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              Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use

              New England Journal of Medicine, 370(23), 2219-2227
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                26 May 2016
                2016
                : 11
                : 5
                : e0156614
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America
                [2 ]Duke Center for Addiction Science and Technology, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America
                University Children's Hospital Tuebingen, GERMANY
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: Dr. Kollins has received research support and/or consulting fees from the following: Akili Interactive, Alcobra, Arbor, Atentiv, Ironshore, Neos, NIH, Neurovance, Purdue Canada, Rhodes, Shire, Sunovion, and Tris in the past 2 years. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials. None of the other authors have any additional declarations.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JTM FJM SHK. Performed the experiments: JTM MMS AMT FJM. Analyzed the data: JTM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JTM. Wrote the paper: JTM MMS AMT SHK FJM.

                Article
                PONE-D-16-02818
                10.1371/journal.pone.0156614
                4882033
                27227537
                0e1c53e9-386e-4682-94b2-5646f154ee9b
                © 2016 Mitchell et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                History
                : 22 January 2016
                : 17 May 2016
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Pages: 13
                Funding
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000026, National Institute on Drug Abuse;
                Award ID: K23 DA032577
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000026, National Institute on Drug Abuse;
                Award ID: K24 DA023464
                Award Recipient :
                This study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (K23 DA032577 to JTM and K24 DA023464 to SHK). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Pharmacology
                Behavioral Pharmacology
                Recreational Drug Use
                Cannabis
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Developmental Neuroscience
                Neurodevelopmental Disorders
                Adhd
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Neurology
                Neurodevelopmental Disorders
                Adhd
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Mental Health and Psychiatry
                Neuropsychiatric Disorders
                Adhd
                Computer and Information Sciences
                Computer Networks
                Internet
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Health Care
                Health Care Providers
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Health Care
                Patient Advocacy
                Physical Sciences
                Chemistry
                Analytical Chemistry
                Chemical Analysis
                Qualitative Analysis
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Cognitive Science
                Cognitive Psychology
                Learning
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Learning
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Learning
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Learning and Memory
                Learning
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Age Groups
                Adolescents
                Custom metadata
                All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

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