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People with severe mental illnesses benefit from tailored quit support

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Bespoke smoking-cessation support can double quit rates for those with severe mental illnesses, according to a trial commissioned by the NHS.

Smoking is the single most modifiable risk for those with severe mental health problems and a new report shows that a tailored approach is the most effective.

The report was published just before Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from May 13-19.

Lead researchers Professor Simon Gilbody, Dr Emily Peckham and research fellow Suzanne Crosland recently took part in a webinar where they discussed the findings from the Smoking Cessation Intervention for Severe Mental Health (SCIMITAR) trial.

Participants in the largest trial of behavioural intervention for smokers using mental health services were three times as likely to successfully quit using this tailored strategy along with the services the NHS currently offers.

Using behavioural support, medication monitoring and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as e-cigarettes, along with the bespoke plan, those in this intervention group had quit rates twice as high as those using standard NHS stop smoking services after six months.

One third of smokers in the UK suffer from mental health issues. Professor Gilbody stressed the importance of offering support to this demographic in particular.

“[People will mental illness are] double stigmatised, for smoking and for using mental health services”.

The trial also ‘resulted in a reduced overall cost and a greater level of effectiveness,’ estimated at around 57 percent, even when the training of mental health practitioners and cost of NRT medication were taken into account.

Concluding the webinar, Professor Simon Gilbody noted that, in the long term:

“Smoking intervention is one of the best investments for the NHS”

Read the full report on the SCIMITAR pilot trial here.

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