The prevalence of smoking in people with a mental illness is higher than in the general population. Guidelines recommend health professionals assess smoking status and provide all smokers with smoking cessation care. Community mental health services have been recognised as important avenues for providing this care to smokers with a mental illness, however little research has examined the extent of current care provision.
To identify the need for and acceptability of smoking cessation care among patients of community mental health services, and investigate the current provision of such care.
A cross-sectional computer assisted telephone interview survey was conducted within one area health service in NSW, Australia. 1,418 clients of community mental health services were asked about their smoking status, desire to quit, smoking cessation care received during appointments, and their acceptability of receiving such care.
Findings indicate a high need for smoking cessation care. Fifty-one percent of clients were smokers; many of whom wanted to quit: 63% were seriously thinking about quitting smoking and 54% had made a quit attempt in the past 12 months. High levels of acceptability for receiving smoking cessation care were expressed: 94% for assessment, 82% for advice to quit, and 85% for arrangement of further support. Actual levels of care provision were sub-optimal. Less than three quarters (73%) of participants reported having been asked their smoking status during CMH appointments. Of smokers, 67% were provided with any advice to quit, and 42% were offered any further support or referral (such as to the Quitline).
The need to address smoking for community mental health clients is considerable, and clinical practice change intervention is required to increase current sub-optimal levels of smoking cessation care are sub-optimal within these services.