Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Training Mental Health Clinicians Boosts Tobacco Treatment for Patients, Study Finds

Training a range of mental health clinicians to deliver tobacco treatment services can increase use of such services and boost the patients’ willingness to quit smoking, according to a new study published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

“Smoking rates among individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder are at least double those of the general population,” said Jill Williams, M.D., a professor and director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and colleagues.

The researchers recruited 20 clinicians, including 13 psychiatrists, and gave then a two-day training session on assessment and treatment of smokers. The curriculum covered behavioral and pharmacological treatments, how to help less-motivated smokers, and how to manage complex cases. Patient charts from the clinicians’ caseload were reviewed before and after the training. After the training, more patients were advised to quit by the participating clinicians (9% before versus 36% after training), more developed treatment plans for quitting (20% versus 60%), and more patients were informed about nicotine replacement therapy (10% versus 31%).

Despite this improvement, more could be done for these patients, concluded Williams and colleagues. “Strategies beyond training may be needed to enhance [smoking-cessation] prescribing by these practitioners,” they suggested.

For more in Psychiatric News about the link between smoking and mental illness, see the article “Smoking Cessation for Patients Called an Urgent Priority.”

(Image: Stepan Popov/


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