schedule 1 drug, legalization, medical education, palliative care, alternative medicine, psychiatric, mental health, magic mushrooms
Background Psilocybin use, along with other psychedelics, has seen an increased interest among professionals in the medical community due to its potential therapeutic benefits for psychiatric disorders, substance use disorders (SUD), and palliative care. While it is certain that more research is necessary as psychedelic-assisted therapy becomes more prevalent, it will most likely be future physicians at the forefront of this neoteric care. Currently, physicians receive minimal training because of psilocybin’s contextual information and its current enlistment as a Schedule 1 drug per the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule 1 drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. As a rule, formal education on psilocybin is not included in medical school curricula, and very little is known about how medical students perceive it. The aim of this study was thus to assess current medical students’ perceptions of their knowledge, concern for possible negative effects, and perceptions about medical psilocybin to provide a deeper understanding of which factors may predict their overall perceptions of its future therapeutic use. Methods Medical students’ knowledge, concern for potential adverse effects, and perceptions of medical psilocybin were investigated using a cross-sectional survey study design. Data were collected in January 2023 from a convenience sample of United States medical students in years one to four of their program using a 41-item anonymous quantitative online survey. Multivariate linear regression modeling was performed to determine if perceived knowledge and beliefs about legalization would predict medical students’ attitudes about psilocybin use for therapeutic purposes. Results Two hundred and thirteen medical students completed the survey. Seventy-three percent (n=155) were osteopathic medical students (OMS), and 27% (n=58) were allopathic medical students (MDS). Regression modeling produced a statistically significant equation: (F(3, 13) = 78.858, p < .001), with an R 2 = 0.573 (adjusted R 2 = 0.567), indicating that greater (perceived) knowledge about medical psilocybin, less concern for its possible adverse effects, and greater belief in the legalization of psilocybin for recreational use significantly contributed to positive perceptions of psilocybin use in medical practice. Conclusions In this sample, medical students with greater self-assessment of their knowledge about medical psilocybin, less concern for its potential adverse effects, and more positive views about recreational psilocybin legalization predicted positive attitudes about its medical use. Interestingly, although some participants had positive perceptions about the legalization of psilocybin for medical use, endorsing its legalization for recreation was related to greater positive attitudes toward medical psilocybin in general, a finding that appears to be somewhat counterintuitive. More research is warranted to further explore medical trainees’ attitudes toward it, as psilocybin is a promising therapeutic intervention. If medicinal psilocybin continues to gain attention among patients and physicians alike, it will be imperative to evaluate its therapeutic efficacy, proper use, dosing, and potential for negative effects, in addition to preparing students to endorse therapeutic psilocybin when warranted.
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Wang, Karina; Sun, Yiqun; Nava, Brenda; Sampiere, Luke; and Jacobs, Robin J., "Predictors of Medical Students’ Perceptions of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy for Use in Medical Practice" (2023). HPD Articles. 372.
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