This pilot study aims to use smartphone-based surveys to assess the risks and benefits associated with medicinal and non-medicinal cannabis use among people living with HIV (PLWHIV). Specifically, the investigators aim to determine 1) the feasibility of using smartphone-based surveys to assess cannabis use and associated patient-reported outcomes at the time they occur; 2) if a similar approach can be used to examine differences in patient-reported outcomes with medicinal versus non-medicinal cannabis use.
Between 35-47% of PLWHIV report that they currently use cannabis, with around half of these people saying they use cannabis for medicinal reasons. To date, scientific studies have yet to determine exactly how medicinally beneficial or harmful cannabis may be for PLWHIV. Furthermore, the retrospective, self-reported nature of these studies may blur the line between when cannabis use is medicinal or non-medicinal.
Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) is a tool that allows researchers to assess someone’s behaviour almost in real time. In CTNPT 037, EMA will involve smartphone-based surveys that participants will complete whenever they use cannabis. The results of this study could have implications on policy around medicinal cannabis use and also help contribute to the design of a mobile health intervention app for PLWHIV who may be at risk of cannabis harms.
The study will recruit 30 participants, who will download an app to their smartphone that contains user-friendly surveys to complete over a 14-day period. The surveys include: a pre-cannabis survey to complete each time they are about to use cannabis to document why they are going to use it; a post-cannabis survey to complete after using cannabis to explain how they used it and the resulting benefits and harms; and daily morning surveys to input information on cannabis use and motives from the previous day. Participants will receive prompts to their phone to remind them to complete each survey.
Participants will also attend a virtual follow-up visit at the end of the 14-day period so they can provide feedback on the user experience of the study, such as the design, clarity, acceptability, and ease of use of the surveys. This information will help improve future EMA survey studies. The participants will also be asked to complete an interview assessing their use of cannabis and other substances over the study period, which will be compared to the data collected through their EMA assessments.