Trust supported trial shows that with the right support, people with severe mental illness who smoke are much better equipped to quit

9th May 2019
Research trial, SCIMITAR+, published in the Lancet Psychiatry shows that a new intervention that helps people with severe mental illness (SMI) to stop smoking can double quit rates.

We are one of 21 community mental health sites that supported the trial. As part of the trial our mental health nurses were trained to deliver behavioural support alongside access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and medications.

Smoking, clinical trial, The researchers compared this support with smokers who received standard care, usually a referral to the local stop smoking service. They found that six months after the intervention, those who received the new support were twice as likely to have quit those who received standard care.

Dr Michelle Horspool, Deputy Director for Research at SHSC and Principal Investigator for SHSC on the SCIMITAR+ Trial said:

Smoking rates among people with mental health conditions are among the highest of any group and this contributes to people dying on average 10 – 20 years earlier than the general population. Smokers with SMI are just as likely to want to quit as anyone else, but often struggle to access mainstream stop smoking services.

I’m delighted that SHSC contributed to SCIMITAR+, and that some of our service users got the opportunity to participate in this really important study. The Trial shows that with the right care, people who use mental health services can be supported to stop smoking. This is a positive step to improve health and reduce inequality in Sheffield and nationally.

Pete Stewart, Mental Health Smoking Cessation Nurse Practitioner, was one of those who delivered the intervention. He said:

A lot of the people I provided the intervention for really wanted to stop smoking, but had struggled to engage with traditional stop smoking services. Some told me that they found the flexibility of cutting down prior to setting a quit date really helped build their confidence to take that difficult step to stopping completely.

Others found it helpful that as a mental health nurse I had an understanding of their mental health difficulties and was better equipped to support them. One participant told me, “It’s really good not having to tell the story of my mental health to someone who might not understand it”.

Read the full report in the Lancet Psychiatry, which includes a summary.

You can also watch a webinar about SCIMITAR+ on YouTube.