Cannabis use is associated with reduced 30-day hospital readmission rates for all causes among patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it has no effect on IBS-specific 30-day hospital readmission rates, according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

The retrospective cohort study is based on data from the 2016 National Readmission Database (NRD). Eligible participants were aged 18 years and older with a principal diagnosis of IBS. The rate of hospital readmissions for IBS-specific causes was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included 30-day hospital readmission rates for all causes.

The analysis included 7163 patients with IBS, of whom 357 reported cannabis use. Patients who used vs did not use cannabis were younger (mean age, 36.7 vs 53.3 years, P <.01) and less likely to be women (62.3% vs 81.0%, P <.01).


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The 30-day IBS-specific hospital readmission rates were 1.5% in patients who used cannabis and 1.1% for those who did not use cannabis (P =.53). For all causes, the 30-day hospital readmission rate was 8.1% in patients with IBS who used cannabis and 12.7% for those who did not.

The odds ratio (OR) associated with 30-day readmission for all causes was lower in patients who used cannabis compared with those who did not after adjustment for confounders (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.53; 95% CI, 0.28-0.99; P =.04).

For participants who used cannabis, the 5 most common principal diagnoses at readmission were cyclical vomiting, IBS with diarrhea, endometriosis, right upper quadrant abdominal pain, and nausea with vomiting.

The median income in the zip code where the patient resided was the sole predictor of 30-day IBS-specific readmission for patients who did not use cannabis (OR, 2.77; 95% CI, 1.15-6.67; P =.02). For patients who did not report cannabis use, having private insurance vs Medicare (aOR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.40-0.76; P <.01) was negatively associated with 30-day all-cause hospital readmission.

The only independent predictor of 30-day readmission among patients with cannabis use was a departure from the hospital against medical advice (OR, 25.2; 95% CI, 5.03-126.5; P <.01).

Among several limitations, the retrospective study was based on an administrative database that uses International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification codes to identify patients with IBS and those who report cannabis use. Also, the investigators were unable to assess the duration, mode of administration, or dosage of cannabis used by each patient, and the NRD does not include patients’ medication history.

“…[G]iven the many adverse effects that have been associated with cannabis, its use for treating [gastrointestinal] and other diseases remains controversial,” the researchers wrote. “Cannabis is currently regarded as adjuvant therapy that can be used in a subset of patients with digestive diseases. The risks and benefits of cannabis use need to be clarified before it emerges as a conventional treatment for IBS.”

Disclosure: One of the study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.

Reference

Choi C, Abougergi M, Peluso H, Weiss SH, Nasir U, Pyrsopoulos N. Cannabis use is associated with reduced 30-day all-cause readmission among hospitalized patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a nationwide analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2022;56(3):257-265. doi:10.1097/MCG.0000000000001498