Helping people with severe mental illness stop smoking

An HTA Programme-funded trial evaluating smoking cessation interventions for people with severe mental illness has published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The pilot trial, SCIMITAR was set up to see if a bespoke approach of methods to stop smoking could help people with severe mental illness quit smoking.

The proportion of people with severe mental illness who smoke is two to three times higher than the rest of the population. It is not known whether current initiatives and services to help people stop smoking, which have been designed for the general public, are effective for people with severe mental health issues.

For the trial, a Bespoke Smoking Cessation (BSC) service specifically aimed at people with severe mental illness was delivered by a mental health nurse acting as the patients Mental Health - Smoking Cessation Practitioner (MH –SCP). The MH-SCP worked with the patient, and their GP or mental health specialist and advised on strategies to stop smoking, gave information, delivered motivational sessions, set dates to stop smoking and helped the patient maintain their efforts to stop smoking.

The trial recruited nearly one hundred patients who were then randomly assigned to either the BSC service or the usual services available through their GP or mental health specialist. They then took part in the trial for the following 12 months and asked to complete questionnaires on their smoking, general and mental health and satisfaction with the service. To confirm patients had stopped smoking, levels of carbon monoxide readings were taken at the beginning and at the end of the trial.

The trial found the BSC service had a positive effect on those patients attempting to stop smoking, with a higher number more likely to have stopped after 12 months than those who followed the usual smoking cessation services offered by a GP or mental health expert. However as this was a pilot trial with relatively small numbers of patients involved this may not be a reliable finding and will need confirmation.

For more information about the project, visit the project page.

More articles     Posted on: 13 April 2015