Assessing motivation to quit smoking in people with mental illness: a review

Addiction. 2009 May;104(5):719-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02545.x.


Background: People with mental health (MH) disorders smoke at higher rates, are more nicotine-dependent and suffer greater morbidity and mortality from smoking-related illnesses than the general population. Helping these people to quit smoking is a public health priority; however, many MH professionals assume that those with mental illness are not motivated to quit.

Objectives: To use predetermined criteria to identify, review critically and evaluate empirically all English language, peer-reviewed data on motivation to quit smoking in MH populations.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted and key data on subject characteristics, measures of motivation and other variables abstracted. chi(2) analyses were used to compare motivation between MH and general populations, between in-patients and out-patients and between people with depression and people with psychotic disorders.

Results: Evidence suggests that people with MH disorders are as motivated to quit smoking as the general population, although those with psychotic disorders may be less motivated than individuals with depression. Although readiness to cease smoking was assessed in 14 studies, only two evaluated motivation to quit smoking in in-patient populations.

Conclusions: People with MH disorders are motivated to quit smoking, although more research is needed looking at in-patient populations. The commonly held false belief that people with MH disorders are not motivated to cease smoking means that opportunities to encourage smoking cessation among this disenfranchised group are being missed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Motivation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention