May 06, 2005

Editorial letter on smoking risk

Tobacco Use and Cataracts in Patients With Schizophrenia
Foulds J, Williams J.

In a letter to the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the authors raised concern that a recent paper on the physical health monitoring of patients with schizophrenia summarized earlier (click here to see that review) ignored the importance of tobacco smoking in their review process.

They were surprised that no recommendations were made for monitoring and intervening on tobacco smoking despite the fact that most of the excess mortality or deaths in schizophrenia can be directly attributed to cigarette smoking. They also raise the issue of the indirect problem of tobacco use affecting health via the high proportion of their total income that people with schizophrenia spend on tobacco (27%). There is concern that mental health professionals rarely assess their patients’ tobacco use despite the fact that effective treatments do exist that can help in reducing smoking habits.

The authors claim that “among the most important things clinicians can do for the health of people with schizophrenia is the proper assessment and treatment of nicotine dependence”. They encourage mental health professionals to strive to improve the physical health of their patients by targeting their efforts appropriately to the main causes of ill health and premature death rather than focusing on the side effects of psychiatric medications.

Am J Psychiatry. 2005 May;162(5):1028.
Click here to find this letter on PubMed


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