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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Cannabis-based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, March 2018
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (97th percentile)

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Title
Cannabis-based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, March 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd012182.pub2
Pubmed ID
Authors

Martin Mücke, Tudor Phillips, Lukas Radbruch, Frank Petzke, Winfried Häuser

Abstract

This review is one of a series on drugs used to treat chronic neuropathic pain. Estimates of the population prevalence of chronic pain with neuropathic components range between 6% and 10%. Current pharmacological treatment options for neuropathic pain afford substantial benefit for only a few people, often with adverse effects that outweigh the benefits. There is a need to explore other treatment options, with different mechanisms of action for treatment of conditions with chronic neuropathic pain. Cannabis has been used for millennia to reduce pain. Herbal cannabis is currently strongly promoted by some patients and their advocates to treat any type of chronic pain. To assess the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of cannabis-based medicines (herbal, plant-derived, synthetic) compared to placebo or conventional drugs for conditions with chronic neuropathic pain in adults. In November 2017 we searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and two trials registries for published and ongoing trials, and examined the reference lists of reviewed articles. We selected randomised, double-blind controlled trials of medical cannabis, plant-derived and synthetic cannabis-based medicines against placebo or any other active treatment of conditions with chronic neuropathic pain in adults, with a treatment duration of at least two weeks and at least 10 participants per treatment arm. Three review authors independently extracted data of study characteristics and outcomes of efficacy, tolerability and safety, examined issues of study quality, and assessed risk of bias. We resolved discrepancies by discussion. For efficacy, we calculated the number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) for pain relief of 30% and 50% or greater, patient's global impression to be much or very much improved, dropout rates due to lack of efficacy, and the standardised mean differences for pain intensity, sleep problems, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and psychological distress. For tolerability, we calculated number needed to treat for an additional harmful outcome (NNTH) for withdrawal due to adverse events and specific adverse events, nervous system disorders and psychiatric disorders. For safety, we calculated NNTH for serious adverse events. Meta-analysis was undertaken using a random-effects model. We assessed the quality of evidence using GRADE and created a 'Summary of findings' table. We included 16 studies with 1750 participants. The studies were 2 to 26 weeks long and compared an oromucosal spray with a plant-derived combination of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) (10 studies), a synthetic cannabinoid mimicking THC (nabilone) (two studies), inhaled herbal cannabis (two studies) and plant-derived THC (dronabinol) (two studies) against placebo (15 studies) and an analgesic (dihydrocodeine) (one study). We used the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool to assess study quality. We defined studies with zero to two unclear or high risks of bias judgements to be high-quality studies, with three to five unclear or high risks of bias to be moderate-quality studies, and with six to eight unclear or high risks of bias to be low-quality studies. Study quality was low in two studies, moderate in 12 studies and high in two studies. Nine studies were at high risk of bias for study size. We rated the quality of the evidence according to GRADE as very low to moderate.Primary outcomesCannabis-based medicines may increase the number of people achieving 50% or greater pain relief compared with placebo (21% versus 17%; risk difference (RD) 0.05 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.00 to 0.09); NNTB 20 (95% CI 11 to 100); 1001 participants, eight studies, low-quality evidence). We rated the evidence for improvement in Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) with cannabis to be of very low quality (26% versus 21%;RD 0.09 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.17); NNTB 11 (95% CI 6 to 100); 1092 participants, six studies). More participants withdrew from the studies due to adverse events with cannabis-based medicines (10% of participants) than with placebo (5% of participants) (RD 0.04 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.07); NNTH 25 (95% CI 16 to 50); 1848 participants, 13 studies, moderate-quality evidence). We did not have enough evidence to determine if cannabis-based medicines increase the frequency of serious adverse events compared with placebo (RD 0.01 (95% CI -0.01 to 0.03); 1876 participants, 13 studies, low-quality evidence).Secondary outcomesCannabis-based medicines probably increase the number of people achieving pain relief of 30% or greater compared with placebo (39% versus 33%; RD 0.09 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.15); NNTB 11 (95% CI 7 to 33); 1586 participants, 10 studies, moderate quality evidence). Cannabis-based medicines may increase nervous system adverse events compared with placebo (61% versus 29%; RD 0.38 (95% CI 0.18 to 0.58); NNTH 3 (95% CI 2 to 6); 1304 participants, nine studies, low-quality evidence). Psychiatric disorders occurred in 17% of participants using cannabis-based medicines and in 5% using placebo (RD 0.10 (95% CI 0.06 to 0.15); NNTH 10 (95% CI 7 to 16); 1314 participants, nine studies, low-quality evidence).We found no information about long-term risks in the studies analysed.Subgroup analysesWe are uncertain whether herbal cannabis reduces mean pain intensity (very low-quality evidence). Herbal cannabis and placebo did not differ in tolerability (very low-quality evidence). The potential benefits of cannabis-based medicine (herbal cannabis, plant-derived or synthetic THC, THC/CBD oromucosal spray) in chronic neuropathic pain might be outweighed by their potential harms. The quality of evidence for pain relief outcomes reflects the exclusion of participants with a history of substance abuse and other significant comorbidities from the studies, together with their small sample sizes.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 730 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 730 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 102 14%
Student > Bachelor 97 13%
Researcher 95 13%
Other 68 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 63 9%
Other 127 17%
Unknown 178 24%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 238 33%
Nursing and Health Professions 71 10%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 64 9%
Psychology 28 4%
Neuroscience 28 4%
Other 102 14%
Unknown 199 27%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 437. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 27 August 2021.
All research outputs
#38,520
of 18,925,350 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
#80
of 11,892 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#1,295
of 289,563 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
#6
of 213 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 18,925,350 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,892 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 26.8. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 289,563 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 213 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.