Smoking Cessation Intervention for People with Severe Mental Illness

It is well documented that people with severe mental health issues are more likely to smoke compared to the general population. Smoking reduces physical wellbeing and is a key modifiable risk factor for health inequality. Despite this, support to stop smoking as part of mental health recovery is limited.  

To support health care services provide appropriate guidance and advice, a group of researchers from universities across the UK have designed a Smoking Cessation Intervention specifically for people with Severe Mental Illnesses (SCIMITAR).

The intervention involves a practitioner who is trained in smoking cessation counselling working alongside a GP or MH specialist to provide an individually tailored intervention that includes behavioural and pharmacological aids.

In a recent randomised control trial involving 562 participants, the researches have examined the effectiveness of the intervention by comparing it with care as usual.

Results found that:

  • The proportion of participants who quit at 6 months was significantly higher in the intervention group than in the usual care group
  • The proportion of participants who had quit at 12 months was higher in the intervention group than in the care as usual group, but non-significantly
  • There was evidence of improvement in physical health in the intervention group at 6 months but not 12 months
  • There was no difference in mental health between the groups at 6 or 12 month

Generally, the results indicate positive outcomes at 6 months. However, it seems the progress tends to wane by 12 months. The fact that there was no difference in mental health between the groups indicates the intervention is not harmful and therefore work to develop and improve the intervention should continue.

Gilbody, S., Peckham, E., Bailey, D., Arundel, C., Heron, P., Crosland, S., ... & Bradshaw, T. (2019). Smoking cessation for people with severe mental illness (SCIMITAR+): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 6(5), 379-390.
Publication Date
United Kingdom