Successful Change in Tobacco Use in Schizophrenia
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The high rates of tobacco use among individuals with schizophrenia are well documented, but there has been less attention paid to identifying what are the special needs for this population. In fact, there have even been suggestions from early work that standard interventions and approaches might be adequate. In contrast, based on more than a decade of experience supporting change smoking behavior among people with schizophrenia, three key factors were identified as unique considerations that are associated with success. The first factor involves readiness to change; smokers with schizophrenia are rarely given opportunities to even try to quit unlike their counterparts in the general population and therefore have not benefited from the self-efficacy aspects of attempt experiences. The second factor is medication and symptom monitoring; there are special needs for nurses and medical staff to monitor symptoms (including schizophrenia symptoms and mood symptoms), medication dosage and side-effects, during the period when individuals with schizophrenia are changing (reducing) their tobacco use, particularly when nicotine replacement therapy is being implemented. Finally, the third factor is peer and caregiver support; the use of peer assistants in group-based programs and the teaching of nurses and other professional casegivers as well as family members about their role as supports can make an important difference in tipping the balance toward successful change and toward maintenance of change over time.
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