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Study Tests Program to Help People With Psychiatric Disorders Quit Smoking After Psychiatric Hospitalization

Posted: Nov. 12, 2014

People with psychiatric disorders consume almost half (44.3%) of all cigarettes smoked in the U.S. and have lifespans 7 to 24 years shorter than the general population. Factors such as cigarette smoking and other lifestyle behaviors are likely responsible. Now researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston believe a smoking cessation intervention that was successful in the general hospitalized population can be adapted for psychiatric patients and will be helpful to those in psychiatric hospitals.

Dr. Richard A. Brown

“In 2011, 1.8 million adults in the U.S. received inpatient psychiatric treatment,” said Dr. Richard A. Brown, research professor at UT Austin School of Nursing and principal investigator. “The majority of psychiatric hospitals ban smoking on their premises so that patients have an opportunity to experience abstinence for a number of days. We hope to capitalize on this time and make it a teachable moment, thereby motivating them to quit smoking and providing a means of support for their continued success after leaving the hospital.”

The five-year project, entitled Extended Care for Smoking Cessation Following Psychiatric Hospitalization, received $3 million in funding from the National Institute of Mental Health to develop and test an intervention consisting of one in-hospital motivational counseling session to motivate patients with psychiatric disorders to quit smoking, a prescription for combination nicotine replacement therapy upon discharge that includes both nicotine patch and nicotine lozenge, and automated interactive voice response calls over three months after hospital discharge. The phone calls provide encouraging messages and guidance regarding the participant’s readiness to quit smoking, including an opportunity to speak to a live smoking cessation counselor, as well as support for continuing to fill and take medications.

The current study will recruit 422 inpatients from Seton Shoal Creek Hospital in Austin and is supported by co-investigators Dr. Kari Wolf and Dr. Kimberly Kjome of the Seton Mind Institute, which is a part of the Seton Healthcare Family.

Results of the earlier intervention with adult smokers in a general hospital who wanted to quit smoking, developed by Dr. Nancy Rigotti, the study’s other principal investigator and director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, were published in the August 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study concluded that smokers who followed the intervention were more successful in sustaining smoking cessation after a general hospital stay.

In addition to reducing the health disparity in this population, the research team will examine the broader positive effects of intervention on health care utilization after hospital discharge, such as the frequency of emergency room visits and readmissions.

“It’s conceivable that if successful in this case, the model could be disseminated broadly and offered by psychiatric hospitals across the United States,” Brown said.