Objectives: Forty-one percent (41%) of persons in the U.S. who reported having recent mental illnesses also smoke cigarettes. Tobacco use among this population is associated with up to 25 less years of life and excess medical comorbidity compared to the general population. While research demonstrates that tobacco interventions can be effective for persons with mental illnesses, they are not commonly utilized in clinical practice. The current study explored how to adapt evidence-based tobacco cessation interventions to meet the unique physiological, psychological, and social challenges facing persons with mental illnesses.
Methods: Ten focus groups were conducted utilizing a semi-structured discussion; 5 for adult mental health consumers (n = 62) and 5 with mental health clinicians and administrators (n = 22). Content analysis was used to organize themes into categories.
Results: Five thematic categories were found: (1) Barriers to treatment, (2) Resources and infrastructure, (3) Negative influences on smoking behavior, (4) Knowledge deficits, and (5) Treatment needs.
Conclusions: These findings are instructive in developing appropriate tobacco cessation services for this population. Specifically, these data have been incorporated into a mental health provider toolkit for smoking cessation and have informed the development of a tobacco cessation intervention study.