Study Reports on Smoking Cessation Services for Veterans in VA Psychiatric Facility
The rate of smoking among psychiatric patients is 2 to 4 times higher than the general population, but studies show that smoking cessation strategies are not generally included in treatment planning for these patients, including Veterans with mental illness. This study had two goals: 1) determine staff characteristics that are associated with attitudes about providing cessation services to Veterans who are psychiatric patients, and 2) seek suggestions from staff about what would be important to include in a tobacco cessation program. Investigators surveyed 150 clinical and non-clinical staff at one Midwestern, primarily psychiatric VA hospital; in addition, interviews were conducted with a convenience subsample of the surveyed staff (n=8). The survey and interview measured: demographics, job status (staff position), and smoking cessation services (i.e., percent of smokers offered cessation services, feelings about providing cessation services).
Findings show that nearly 75% of staff in this study thought that VA should do more to assist Veterans to quit smoking, yet only about 25% said that they personally provide cessation services. However, more than 50% felt moderately, very, or extremely confident in providing cessation services. Interestingly, nurses were less likely than other staff to feel that it was important to provide cessation services, which could be because of competing job demands. The most common reasons given by all respondents for not providing services were not enough time and lack of training. When asked how VA could best assist smokers to quit, most responses focused on educating Veterans about tobacco use and how they can quit, as well as providing tobacco cessation medications.
Essenmacher C, Duffy S, Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Lynch-Sauer J. Staff attitudes toward the delivery of tobacco cessation services in a primarily psychiatric Veterans Affairs Hospital. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing June 2009;23(3):231-242.
This study was funded by HSR&D. Dr. Duffy is part of HSR&D’s Center for Clinical Management Research in Ann Arbor, MI.