Marijuana and Other Coping Strategies Used by HIV/AIDS Patients Reporting Anxiety, Depression, and Pain
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Though some research has been conducted on coping strategies for HIV -related symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain, this study focuses on the overlap of these related symptoms, and on the use of marijuana as a coping strategy. Data from the first 212 participants in an ongoing probability survey of health and marijuana use were used to examine coping strategies for self reported anxiety, depression, and pain in patients from a large urban HIV primary care clinic. Trained researchers conducted the interviews and recorded yes/no, Likert scale, and open-ended answers. Open-ended coping strategy responses were divided into 13 categories and analyzed in regard to symptoms and demographic data. Eighty-eight percent of participants self-identified as African American. Over half of patients reported experiencing anxiety, depression, or pain. Although only 7.1% of patients were certified for medical marijuana use, 45.8% reported using marijuana during the past 90 days. Females were more likely to report experiencing pain than males. Patients reporting depression were significantly more likely to use only medication than to use only marijuana. Patients reporting pain were significantly more likely to use only FDA approved analgesic medication than to use only marijuana. Patients reporting pain were significantly more likely to use only marijuana than to use only other drugs (i.e. street drugs). Among participants who self-reported using marijuana to alleviate their depression, there was a significant relationship between number of symptoms and use of marijuana-77 .8o/o of individuals with depression using marijuana to cope reported having all three symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression. The findings from this study can be used to understand naturalistic variation in coping strategies among HIV I AIDS patients, and to help clinicians tailor treatment plans for those individuals who report anxiety, depression, and/or pain.