Cannabis and its effect on health outcomes and behaviors of UNTHSC graduate students

dc.creatorShah, Maulien_US
dc.creatorArvay, Andrewen_US
dc.creatorMire, Emilyen_US
dc.creatorGriner, Staceyen_US
dc.description.abstractPurpose: The rate of cannabis usage is high among graduate students. According to the reference data of the National College Health Assessment survey of Spring 2022, 42.4% of graduate students reported cannabis use sometime in their life. Cannabis use is often linked with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs but there is limited research on its relationship to mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and stress among graduate students. There is also limited information about the effect of cannabis use on academic success, which is often a significant concern among graduate students. The purpose of this study was to assess the associations of cannabis use with health outcomes and behaviors among graduate students. Method: The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey data collected by the Office of Care and Civility of UNTHSC were analyzed after approval from the Institutional Review Board. Variables included were cannabis use (ever used or never used), anxiety (ever diagnosed or never diagnosed), depression (ever diagnosed or never diagnosed), tobacco use (ever used and never used), alcohol consumption (ever consumed or never consumed), stress (no, low, moderate, high), and if cannabis use has affected academic performance in the past years (yes or no). A descriptive analysis using Chi-square tests and Fisher’s Exact tests were conducted using RStudio, with a p-value of <0.05 being considered significant. Results: In total, 32.2% of graduate students on the UNTHSC Campus reported non-medicinal use of cannabis sometime in their life. A total of 29% of cisgender men, 33% of cisgender women, and 50% of transgender/gender non-conforming graduate students on campus reported using cannabis ever in their life. Statistically significant associations were found between the use of cannabis and anxiety (p=0.0003), cannabis use and depression (p=0.006), cannabis use and alcohol use (p<0.0001), and cannabis use and tobacco use (p<0.0001). No significant associations were noted between cannabis use and stress (p=0.76) and the influence of cannabis use on academics (p= 0.27). Conclusion: We noted that cannabis use was associated with mental health outcomes and other substance use among this sample of graduate students. The results from this analysis will guide the Office of Care and Civility to develop future health programming on campus with a more holistic approach. Moreover, mental health outcome numbers are high among graduate students on the UNTHSC campus, and programming or awareness campaigns for cannabis might be effective in addressing mental health outcomes as well. However, since this study is a cross-sectional study, we cannot comment on causation, but future work may benefit from further exploring these relationships to determine causality.en_US
dc.titleCannabis and its effect on health outcomes and behaviors of UNTHSC graduate studentsen_US