Smoking policy in mental health care
background People with mental illnesses tend to smoke more often and more heavily than other members of the public and their addiction to tobacco also has harmful effects on their physical health. So far, however, limited priority was given to smoking cessation in mental health care settings.
aim To provide insight into the formal and informal smoking policies of Dutch mental health care organisations and into the nature and extent of the smoking cessation support they offer, and, additionally, to look at the opportunities for improvement in clinical settings.
method Document research on formal policies of 61 mental health care facilities, interviews with workers directly involved (n = 10), and a survey on policy implementation among staff members of treatment facilities (n = 600).
results One-third of the facilities did not have a formalised smoking policy document, and there was a marked difference between the smoking policies at the rest of the facilities. Treatment provision was limited, strongly dependent on the individual staff member, and was often not the most effective form of care (like medication).
conclusion Many mental health patients really do want to give up smoking and often respond well to treatment. Psychiatrists play a key role in integrating and implementing an anti-smoking policy which will benefit their patients.