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Views about integrating smoking cessation treatment within psychological services for patients with common mental illness: a multi-perspective qualitative study

By Gemma Taylor, Katherine Sawyer, David Kessler, Marcus R Munafo, Paul Aveyard, Alison Shaw

Posted 20 Feb 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.18.20024596

BackgroundSmoking rates are significantly higher in people with mental health problems, compared to those without. Negative attitudes towards smoking cessation are widespread in inpatient settings towards patients with severe and enduring mental illness. It is not clear if the same attitudes operate in psychological services towards people with common mental illness. We aimed to understand the concerns and views that patients, therapists, and smoking cessation practitioners may have about integrating smoking cessation treatment into psychological treatment for common mental illness and how these concerns may be overcome. MethodsThematic analysis of 23 in-depth interviews. Interviews took place in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and smoking cessation services in England. Participants were 11 psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWPs), six IAPT patients with common mental illness, and six smoking cessation advisors. OutcomesNone. FindingsIAPT patients reported psychological benefits from smoking, but also described smoking as a form of therapeutic self-harm. PWPs seem positive towards smoking cessation treatment for people with common mental illness. IAPT PWPs and patients accept evidence that smoking tobacco may harm mental health, and quitting might benefit mental health. PWPs report expertise in helping people with common mental illness to make behavioural changes in the face of mood disturbances and poor motivation. IAPT appears to be a natural environment for smoking cessation intervention. PWPs felt confident to offer smoking cessation treatments to IAPT patients, but thought that a reduction in caseload was required to deliver smoking cessation support in an already pressed service.

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