Brief web-based interventions for young adult smokers with severe mental illnesses: A randomized, controlled pilot study

Publication Date


Journal Title

Nicotine Tob Res


© 2017 The Author(s). Significance: About 50% of young adults with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other severe mental illnesses smoke tobacco, but few studies have evaluated interventions for this group. Methods: We conducted a randomized pilot study among 58 young adult smokers with severe mental illnesses comparing a brief interactive web-based motivational tool, Let's Talk About Smoking, to computerized standard education from the National Cancer Institute. An additional 23 subjects received minimal tobacco assessment at baseline and no intervention, providing a comparison condition for naturalistic cessation behavior. All participants (total n = 81) were assessed for smoking and breath carbon monoxide at baseline and 14 weeks and had access to standard cessation treatments. Results: The 81 participants were stable outpatients ages 18-30 (mean 24.8 years): 43.2% were diagnosed with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, the remainder with severe mood and anxiety disorders. They smoked 14.6 ± 10.2 cigarettes per day. All participants completed their assigned intervention; 83.4% of Let's Talk About Smoking users and 71.4% of standard education users rated their intervention "good" or "very good." At 14 weeks, less than 15% of participants in all conditions had used additional cessation treatment. Let's Talk About Smoking users were more likely to have biologically verified abstinence at 14 weeks than standard education users (14.8% vs. 0%; X2 = 3.7, p = .05). None of the participants in the naturalistic comparison condition were abstinent at 14 weeks. Conclusions: Interactive, web-based motivational interventions are feasible and promising for smoking cessation among young smokers with severe mental illnesses. Such interventions warrant further study among this group of smokers. Implications: Young adult smokers with severe mental illnesses are a vulnerable population that, without intervention, goes on to experience disparate morbidity and mortality. Brief, easily disseminable interventions are needed to facilitate cessation in this group. This pilot research indicates that brief, technology-delivered, motivational interventions that are tailored for this group may be able to activate a significant number to quit without additional cessation intervention.

Volume Number


Issue Number



1206 - 1214

Document Type





School of Medicine

Primary Department


Additional Departments

General Internal Medicine; Molecular Medicine





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