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Cessation support for smokers with mental health problems: a survey of resources and training needs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-44
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Volume80
Early online date29 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

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Abstract

Aims: Around thirty percent of smokers have a mental health problem. Smoking cessation has been associated with mental health benefits, but smoking prevalence remains high in populations with mental health problems. This study aimed to assess mental health related knowledge, practice, and training needs of practitioners supporting smoking cessation. 
Methods: UK stop smoking practitioners (n = 717) recruited via a database of a national provider of smoking cessation training in June 2016 sufficiently completed an online survey about available resources, knowledge, confidence, and training needs related to smoking cessation and mental health. Responses were described and compared between practitioners with a mental health lead and those without such a lead in their service using chi-square statistics and t-tests. 
Results: A considerable proportion agreed (37%) or were undecided (28.9%) that smoking helped people with mental health problems feel better and agreed (17.2%) or were undecided (30.2%) that cessation would exacerbate mental health symptoms. Only 11.6% said their service had designated funding for smokers with mental health problems and 26.5% were or had a staff member who was a dedicated lead practitioner for mental health work. Practitioners from services that had a dedicated mental health lead were more confident in supporting smokers with different mental health problems and using different pharmacotherapies (all p < 0.001) and were more likely to disagree that cessation was detrimental (p = 0.001). A majority of practitioners were interested in training, particularly about smoking cessation effects on psychiatric medication (84.3% of n = 632) and how to tailor stop smoking support to clients with mental health problems (82.4%). 
Conclusion: Practitioners who support smoking cessation have limited knowledge about mental health and smoking but are willing to learn and improve. However, they are hindered by a lack of resources.

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