Approximately forty percent of the cigarettes smoked in the United States are smoked by individuals with a mental illness (here called consumers). Smoking remains a common preventable cause of illness and premature death for individuals with severe mental illness (SMI), which includes bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, and severe depression. Traditional strategies to support smoking cessation may not meet the needs or address the unique concerns of individuals with SMI. Moreover, interventions to stop smoking are not commonly available in the treatment sites that serve consumers. One reason is that most interventions for smoking cessation are designed to be led by clinicians, making them expensive and difficult to continue over time.
In response to these challenges, this research project will use a Community Partnered Participatory Research (CPPR) approach to identify interventions that reflect the needs of consumers treated in community mental health clinics. We will describe consumer and community preferences and build bridges between agencies, consumers, and providers in order to develop and implement a smoking cessation intervention. Our stop-smoking intervention will be peer-led. Peers are consumers who may also have expertise as providers (i.e., Peer Specialists).
The partnered process will be co-led by the Program Director (Corteza) of The Wellness Center and Employment Services Program at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Clinic and an academic research psychiatrist and anthropologist (Bromley). We will engage consumer providers, consumers, consumer advocates, consumer experts in self-help and group facilitation, clinic leaders, and other stakeholders. A consumer Task Force will share experiences, discuss way stop smoking, and review available interventions using a structured process. Three consumers will become Peer Specialists in Smoking Cessation (PSSCs). PSSCs will train to deliver the intervention in a pilot study at Didi Hirsch. The partnership will be evaluated to set the stage for further research.