Background: Although the move to smoke-free hospital settings is generally a popular initiative, it may be a more challenging and controversial issue in mental health care. A survey was carried out to investigate differences in attitudes between clinical staff in psychiatric and general medical settings to smoke-free policy and intervention.
Method: The sample comprised 2574 NHS staff working in two Acute Hospital Trusts and one Mental Health Trust in England. Attitudes were examined on two factors: health care settings as smoke-free environments and the role of staff in stop smoking intervention.
Results: The findings indicated that attitudes on the two factors were only moderately correlated. Psychiatric staff expressed significantly less favourable attitudes than general staff to smoke-free health care settings and also to the role of staff in stop smoking intervention. The largest difference between the settings concerned the implementation of smoking bans. While approximately 1 in 10 staff in the general setting disagreed with a smoking ban in their wards or clinics, nearly one in three psychiatric staff was against such a ban in their setting.
Conclusions: Staff attitudes need to be carefully considered, particularly in psychiatric settings, in attempts to implement smoke-free policies in health care settings.