Objective: Schizophrenic patients have high rates of cigarette smoking. The authors compared the outcomes of two group psychotherapy programs for smoking cessation in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who were also treated with the nicotine transdermal patch and with either atypical or typical antipsychotic medications.
Method: Forty-five subjects were randomly assigned to 1) the group therapy program of the American Lung Association (N=17) or 2) a specialized group therapy program for smokers with schizophrenia (N=28) that emphasized motivational enhancement, relapse prevention, social skills training, and psychoeducation. All subjects participated in 10 weeks of treatment with the nicotine transdermal patch (21 mg/day) and 10 weekly group therapy sessions and continued to receive their prestudy atypical (N=18) or typical (N=27) antipsychotic medications. Outcome variables included treatment retention, rate of smoking abstinence, and expired-breath carbon monoxide level.
Results: Smoking abstinence rates did not differ in the two group therapy programs. However, atypical antipsychotic agents, in combination with the nicotine transdermal patch, significantly enhanced the rate of smoking cessation (55.6% in the atypical agent group versus 22.2% in the typical group), which was reflected by a significant effect of atypical versus typical agents on carbon monoxide levels. Risperidone and olanzapine were associated with the highest quit rates.
Conclusions: The results suggest that 1) smoking cessation rates with the nicotine transdermal patch are modest in schizophrenia, 2) specialized group therapy for schizophrenic patients is not significantly different from American Lung Association group therapy in its effect on smoking cessation, and 3) atypical agents may be superior to typical agents in combination with the nicotine transdermal patch for smoking cessation in schizophrenia.