Study Examines Tobacco Dependence among
Individuals with Serious Mental Illness
NEW BRUNSWICK — A researcher at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is recruiting smokers with serious mental illness to participate in a new study to determine the best methods to motivate individuals in this population group to quit smoking.
“Individuals with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are more likely to smoke cigarettes, smoke more cigarettes per day and to take in more nicotine and tar from each cigarette,” said Dr. Marc L. Steinberg, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “At the same time, they are less likely to quit smoking and more likely to suffer negative consequences from smoking.
The ultimate goals of the study, called Project Enhance: Motivating Smokers with Serious Mental Illness to Quit Smoking, are to learn how to best motivate smokers with serious mental illness to quit smoking and to raise awareness among treatment providers regarding the seriousness of smoking for those who also suffer from serious mental illness.
“Mental health treatment providers have historically overlooked tobacco use in their patients, but it is important not to underestimate the effects of this deadly addiction,” said Dr. Steinberg. “For those with mental illness, cigarette smoking may exacerbate their already existing financial hardships, worsen medical problems, and may even interfere with their psychiatric medications.”
Research participants will learn how smoking affects them personally and will receive referrals for tobacco dependence treatment. Previous research has indicated that individuals with serious mental illness can quit smoking but need help to do so.
“What’s unique about this study is that people don't have to want to quit to participate,” explained Dr. Steinberg. “We're trying to address motivation to quit smoking, and are inviting smokers at all levels of motivation to participate. By giving the participants referrals for tobacco dependence specialist treatment, they'll know that tobacco dependence treatment resources exist for them. They don’t have to try to quit by themselves.”
For more information on participating in this study, please contact Project Enhance at (732) 235-3904.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.