Exclusive CFN Media Interview: RISE Life Science Study on Cannabis and Sexual Health (Part 1)
July 3rd, 2018
Exclusive, News, Top News
CFN Media recently sat down with Dr. Regina Nelson, who is leading a long-term study of sexual health and wellness and how it relates to cannabis for RISE Life Science Corp. (CSE: RLSC). Dr. Nelson is a noted U.S.- based advocate for medical cannabis and author of many peer-reviewed research papers and books on the subject. She is also a founding officer of The eCS Therapy Center, a non-profit organization building awareness of the endocannabinoid system. This is Part 1 of a two-part article series written further to the interview with Dr. Nelson. Part 2 to follow.
- You are working with RISE Life Science to implement a broad and long-term study called ‘The RISE Report on Cannabis and Sexual Health and Wellness’. The title is fairly descriptive, but can you tell us about the structure and parameters of the study, as well as the type of data you expect to gather?
RISE Life Science is developing and commercializing cannabis-based products for sexual health and wellness. They are pioneering new and innovative products in an emerging category created by the legalization of cannabis.
Through this study we expect that we will be able to more clearly understand the various factors that affect healthy sexual function and experiences. This study is designed to help us learn how the introduction of innovative and emerging cannabis products affect sexual experiences, function, and health.
We have set up a framework for collecting and analyzing anonymized and aggregated data from large pools of self-selected participants – consumers of emerging cannabis products. The goal is to have people from all over the world take part in this global study via online survey methodology.
We will be collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data.
What this means, is that we’ll be using narrative theory to make sense of stories and experiences shared by participants and to bring experiential clarity to the data we are collecting.
What we are looking for is feedback related to:
- What sexual function or health concerns are affecting participants?
- What experiences are particularly important and why?
- How do novel cannabis products affect experiences and sexual outcomes?
- Are there specific differences in affect across genders?
- And what are participant experiences telling us about the use of novel cannabis products?
This study is a cross-sectional analysis that will compare different population groups at a single point in time. Such studies usually offer a snapshot of a single moment in time; but they do not consider what happens before or after the snapshot is taken. Because they extend beyond a single moment in time, long-term studies can establish sequences, patterns, or trends of or among events at both the group and individual level. For this reason, the study will be conducted over an extended period of time. Additionally, the study will not collect sensitive personal data; instead, it will seek findings from anonymized, aggregate self-selected demographic data.
The inclusion of qualitative data and its analysis will refine and explain statistical results by exploring study participant views in-depth.
The decision to give priority to qualitative data was influenced by this study’s purpose: to identify and explain factors that affect the sexual experiences, function, and health of innovative cannabis product consumers. Narrative or text data provided by participants is designed to provide a new dimension of knowledge that is vitally needed at this time.
For the purposes of this study, multiple survey modules will be made available online. Survey modules will be taken consecutively by some and/or randomly by others. It is expected that some participants will only partake in a portion of the supplied survey modules, whereas others will complete all modules in one sitting, while yet others may visit the study multiple times. Regardless, both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected contemporaneously, allowing participants to narrate a response based on any specific question at the time of data collection.
At the end of the day, RISE is interested in this study because it will inform product development. The company is intent on developing products based on consumer insights – what they like, what they don’t like. This study will provide an important conduit for RISE to continually innovate and improve in ways no other company can at the moment as this will be the most comprehensive study of its kind ever undertaken.
- Can you talk of the difference between qualitative and quantitative data? How is this study different from previous sex studies in relation to these types of data?
Most of the quantitative types of sex research to date simply ask just a few multiple-choice questions to categorize the patient or research subject(s) state of sexual frequency, function, satisfaction, or dissatisfaction. What separates this study is the use of qualitative (narrative) data, which is designed to dig deeper, so that a better understanding can be gained. We will be asking participants to describe their experiences and feelings in detail, allowing us to gain a much deeper view into how people are affected sexually by cannabis products.
- The study is focused on cannabis and sex. Does every participant need to be a cannabis user? To extend this line of thinking, are the results of the study likely to be applicable outside of the world of cannabis?
A point of clarification to begin: the understanding of cannabis ‘user’ is changing as we speak. There’s a bit of a stigma with the words ‘cannabis user’ as it’s a throwback to what was formerly an illegal status, which is no longer the case in many jurisdictions around the world.
It’s important to understand that cannabis has two primary components that currently interest researchers: THC, which is psychoactive, and CBD, which is not.
For purposes of this study, we will be doing research on CBD and THC cannabis use and CBD and THC-based sexual health and wellness products. Products, like the RISE Life Science products being examined, will be readily available to the public in many jurisdictions and may often be purchased and used by people who do not smoke marijuana or use cannabis in other ways.
The advantage of legalization is that it enables scientific study that can provide important data and information that may benefit those who didn’t want to use cannabis before because it might be illegal.
With that, I can say that we do not expect that every participant will be a traditional cannabis user. In fact, we expect that half of participants during the first year will be non-cannabis users. Non-cannabis (no consumption of innovative cannabis products) participants self-selected from the mass population will form the control group. This study aims to provide a platform for people to share their sexual health and function data and see how they compare to others.
Certainly, people who don’t use cannabis are as interested in participating in research and learning more about their own health, especially as they contemplate cannabis use – THC-based or CBD-based. Our expectation is that the non-psychoactive CBD-based products will appeal to most of the general adult public, while THC-based products represent new exploratory experiences for a subset of adults, those who don’t typically consume. We call this latter group ‘canna-curious’. Estimates suggest that the primary control group will respond up to ten times more frequently than actual consumers of novel cannabis products during the first year and two-to-five times more regularly thereafter, providing a solid control base.
Consumers of innovative cannabis products – who are otherwise not the traditional type of cannabis users, are the primary group of interest. The experiences of respondents in this group will be contrasted with those of respondents from the control group.
A second group of interest, medical or current cannabis users will be contrasted with both the control group and the consumer respondents. Because medical cannabis programs are developing around the globe and casual cannabis use is globally widespread, researchers will seek to categorize “current cannabis users” from “non-users.” With the shifting environment and growing mainstream interest it is expected that now, more than ever before, respondents will complete and provide cannabis consumption information.
- How do you think doctors will be able to use the information gleaned from this study?
This study is the largest of its kind ever undertaken. The type of data we will collect and analyze will provide a base of knowledge that will educate doctors and be a platform from which clinical trials can be proposed. Not only will the findings of this study inform product development by RISE Life Science in a way that has never been done before, importantly, it will identify trends and patterns from qualitative and narrative data and will be a key step toward human trials in the United States.
Stay tuned for Part 2…
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