Smoking prevalence remains high among people with mental illness, who experience high levels of smoking-related morbidity and mortality and reduced life expectancy as a consequence. Health care services are considered to represent important avenues to provide smoking cessation care (SCC) for smokers with a mental illness.
‘Carers’ play an increasingly critical role in the care and support of people with mental illness. Research has not explored the expectations and experiences of carers regarding the provision of SCC for people with mental illness.
To examine: 1) carer expectations of SCC provision by health services for people with mental illness; and 2) carer reported SCC provision in four health care settings: mental health hospitals, community mental health services, General Practitioners (GPs) and community-based Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).
In the Hunter New England region of NSW, Australia, carers of a person with mental illness were surveyed utilising a self-administered questionnaire.
One hundred and forty-four carers participated; with 68.8% reporting the person they cared for to be a smoker.
The proportions of all carers who considered that SCC should be provided in health care services were: mental health hospitals (71.4%), community mental health services (78.0%), GPs (82.7%), and NGOs (56.6%).
The reported prevalence of smoking assessment provided by mental health hospitals or community mental health services were 72.7%, and 63.5% respectively. Where assessment had occurred, only 56.4% and 55.8% had been provided with advice, treatment or referral for smoking. Reported assessment by GPs was 62.5%, with a lower proportion reported to have received further care (37.5%). Reported assessment was lowest for NGOs (58.6%), though more than half received further care (62.5%).
Participating carers expect smoking assessment and treatment from health care services. Participants reported moderate levels of assessment of smoking status, however treatment rates were generally reported to be lower.