Quit Talk Around Mental Health

Smoking cessation counseling more likely given to patients without mental health condition

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Doctors may be more likely to push patients without any mental health indicators to quit smoking. But smoking is harmful to everyone’s health, regardless of mental health status.

A recent study looked at the patient records from nearly 500 general practitioner offices to see if the smokers were being advised to quit.

The results showed that patients with either a prescription for a psychoactive medication or a diagnosed mental illness were less likely to be advised to quit by a healthcare professional than other smoking patients.

"Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW."

Lisa Szatkowski, PhD, from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham, and Ann McNeill, PhD, from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at King’s College London, in the UK, teamed up to investigate how healthcare professionals talked to patients with mental illness about quitting smoking.

For this study, the researchers looked at patient records at 495 general practices with a total of 2,493,085 patients that were 16 years of age and older.

Overall, 96,285 of the smokers were on one or more psychoactive medications, and 32,154 of them had been diagnosed with one or more mental health conditions.

According to the patient records, 51 percent of smokers that had been diagnosed with a mental health condition had been advised to quit by one of the healthcare professionals on staff. The same advice was given to 49 percent of smokers taking psychoactive medications.

Only 11 percent of smokers with either a mental health diagnosis or a psychoactive prescription were also prescribed smoking cessation medications.  A total of 7 percent of smoking patients without either a mental health diagnosis or prescription for psychoactive medications were prescribed smoking cessation medication.

When the researchers looked at smoking cessation advice over time, the results showed that repeated smoking cessation advice was more commonly given to people without any indication of mental illness.

Smokers with a mental health diagnosis or psychoactive prescription were advised 8 percent of the time. Patients without a mental health condition or on psychoactive medication were advised 12 percent of the time.

The authors concluded that only about half of patients with a mental illness or need for psychoactive medication were being advised to quit smoking and only one in 10 of those patients were being given smoking cessation prescriptions.

“Interventions are lower per consultation for smokers with mental health indicators compared with smokers without mental health indicators,” concluded the authors.

This study was published in March in Addiction.

The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration supported funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 28, 2013
Last Updated:
April 1, 2013