Identifying subgroups of Dutch cannabis users based on help-seeking preferences: a latent class analysis
The majority of people with cannabis use disorder does not seek treatment. If we were able to gain more insight into different subgroups of cannabis users based on help-seeking preferences, we could use this information to inform the development and promotion of interventions targeted at specific subgroups of cannabis users, to ultimately narrow the treatment gap.
An online survey was conducted among 1015 Dutch frequent cannabis users (18-72 years) to assess their cannabis use, help-seeking preferences, psychopathology and psychological distress. Latent class analysis was used to identify classes of cannabis users based on their help-seeking preferences. Differences between the identified classes in terms of socio-demographics, cannabis use and psychopathology were examined.
We identified four classes. Class 1, (‘no support/only social’, n=548) had a low probability of finding any form of support appealing other than social support. Class 2, (‘online help’, n=170) had relatively high probabilities of finding online help appealing. Class 3, (‘GP/outpatient’, n=208) had a relatively high probability of finding support from the general practitioner and outpatient substance use disorder treatment appealing. Class 4 (‘all sources’, n=89) had moderate to high probabilities for all sources of support. In terms of socio-demographics, differences between the classes were found with regard to gender and level of education. The classes were fairly similar with regard to cannabis use, only the ‘online help’ class scored significantly lower on both cannabis use frequency and quantity compared to most of the other classes. In terms of psychopathology, the ‘GP/outpatient’ class and the ‘all sources’ class experienced more cannabis use related problems and were more likely to report past quit attempts than the ‘online help’ class and the ‘no support/only social’ class.
Our findings emphasize the importance of promoting a variety of treatment modalities for cannabis users and indicate what might appeal to whom.