Community mental healthcare providers’ attitudes and practices related to smoking cessation interventions for people living with severe mental illness.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe mental healthcare providers’ attitudes about tobacco use, their personal smoking status, their confidence in offering smoking cessation support to clients living with severe mental illness, and the extent to which they incorporated smoking cessation interventions into their practice. The study also aimed to determine whether the providers’ attitudes, smoking status, and confidence were associated with offering smoking cessation support to clients.

METHODS: Self-administered questionnaires were distributed within community-based mental health agencies to those who provide care and support to adults living with severe mental illness. Outcomes measured included respondents’ smoking status, attitudes related to the provision of smoking cessation support, confidence in providing smoking cessation intervention, and smoking cessation practices. We conducted multivariate analyses using logistic regression analyses to examine the factors associated with the providers’ tobacco-related practices.

RESULTS: In total 282 of 871 care providers responded to the survey, 22% of whom were current smokers. The providers who held sympathetic attitudes about their role and their clients’ role in smoking cessation, who were never or former smokers, who were healthcare professionals rather than paraprofessionals, who had relatively more confidence, and who had more experience working in the mental health field were more likely to engage their clients in tobacco-related interventions.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study the healthcare providers working in community-based mental health have a smoking prevalence rate that exceeds that of the region’s general population and did not provide optimal smoking cessation support to their clients.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Interventions that bolster the confidence of providers to engage is smoking cessation activities and that support a shift in attitudes about the role of tobacco use in mental health are required.