Depression level, not pain severity, is associated with smoked medical marijuana dosage among chronic pain patients

Daniel Feingold, Silviu Bril, Itay Goor-Aryeh, Yael Delayahu, Shaul Lev-Ran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The use of medical marijuana (MM) for the treatment of chronic pain is rapidly growing in the United States and Europe; however there is concern regarding the specificity of its therapeutic effects and the motivation underlying its use. While research indicates that among chronic pain prescribed opioids, depression has been associated with increased opioid dosage (regardless of pain levels), the extent to which depression and pain each contribute to MM dose among chronic pain patients is yet unknown. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 209 chronic pain patients prescribed smoked MM, in flower or other plant form, with no concurrent opioid treatment. Ordinal regression analyses were performed in order to explore the unique contribution of mean pain level (1–10 scale), depression severity (measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)) and anxiety severity (measured by the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7)) to doses of MM, while taking into account additional sociodemographic and clinical factors. Results: Individuals with mild depression and those with moderate to severe depression were at significantly increased odds for using higher doses of MM in grams per month(Adjusted Odds Ratio(AOR) = 2.06,95% Confidence Interval(CI) = 1.05–4.01, and AOR = 5.95,95% CI = 1.97–17.98, respectively) compared to those without depression. In addition, individuals with mild depression were at significantly increased odds for smoking more MM joints daily(AOR = 2.07, 95% CI = 1.01–4.23) compared to individuals without depression. Mean levels of pain or anxiety severity were not significantly associated with either dose measures. Conclusions: Depression and MM dose are highly correlated and should be concurrently addressed during chronic pain treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110130
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Dose
  • Medical marijuana


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