Views about integrating smoking cessation treatment within psychological services for patients with common mental illness: A multi-perspective qualitative study

Gemma M J Taylor, Katherine Sawyer, David Kessler, Marcus R Munafò, Paul Aveyard, Alison Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Tobacco smoking rates are significantly higher in people with common mental illness compared to those without. Smoking cessation treatment could be offered as part of usual outpatient psychological care, but currently is not.

OBJECTIVE: To understand patient and health care professionals' views about integrating smoking cessation treatment into outpatient psychological services for common mental illness.

DESIGN: Qualitative in-depth interviews, with thematic analysis.

PARTICIPANTS: Eleven Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWPs), six IAPT patients, and six stop smoking advisors were recruited from English smoking cessation, and IAPT services.

RESULTS: Patients reported psychological benefits from smoking, and also described smoking as a form of self-harm. Stop smoking advisors displayed therapeutic pessimism and stigmatizing attitudes towards helping people with mental illness to quit smoking. PWPs have positive attitudes towards smoking cessation treatment for people with common mental illness. PWPs and patients accept evidence that smoking tobacco may harm mental health, and quitting might benefit mental health. PWPs report expertise in helping people with common mental illness to make behavioural changes in the face of mood disturbances and low motivation. PWPs felt confident in offering smoking cessation treatments to patients, but suggested a caseload reduction may be required to deliver smoking cessation support in IAPT.

CONCLUSIONS: IAPT appears to be a natural environment for smoking cessation treatment. PWPs may need additional training, and a caseload reduction. Integration of smoking cessation treatment into IAPT services should be tested in a pilot and feasibility study.

PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: Service users and members of the public were involved in study design and interpretation of data.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Expectations
Early online date23 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Dec 2020

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