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Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2006 Dec;15(4):272-8.

Challenging the smoking culture within a mental health service supportively.

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  • 1Alma Street Centre, Fremantle Hospital and Health Service, South Metropolitan Health Service, Fremantle, WA, Australia.


Smoking is an entrenched part of the culture of mental health care services. This paper discusses the smoking culture in mental health care settings and demonstrates a supportive model to engage staff to actively address their tobacco use and to influence a change in smoking-related workplace policy, practice, and culture. With management endorsement, two 9-week staff smoking cessation support groups were implemented and subsidized nicotine replacement therapy was provided to staff within the Alma Street Mental Health Service, Fremantle Hospital, Western Australia. Eighteen staff members from nursing, social work, administration staff, and patient care assistants participated in the group programme. At the conclusion of the programme, 61% (n = 11) of participants had quit as a result of the groups. Furthermore, a 3-month follow-up evaluation revealed that 39% (n = 7) of the group had abstained from smoking because of the programme. More importantly, the groups engaged staff to discuss workplace smoking issues and produced five recommendations to review policy and practice to further influence a change in the smoking culture of the mental health care service. The groups also provided the opportunity to develop a model of intervention to address smoking in a mental health setting and to raise the public health role of mental health nurses.

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