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Schizophr Res. 2012 Jul;138(2-3):285-9. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.03.024. Epub 2012 May 10.

Clinical characteristics of heavy and non-heavy smokers with schizophrenia.

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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States.


Up to 50-90% of persons with schizophrenia smoke cigarettes. Limited data and theories suggest persons with schizophrenia may smoke for different reasons than persons without schizophrenia, making smoking cessation interventions particularly challenging in this population. Although health consequences of smoking are widely known, less information is available regarding characteristics of different amounts of smoking exposure in this population. This study was performed to investigate differences between heavy (≥ 1 pack per day) and non-heavy (<1 pack per day) smoking in patients with schizophrenia. Data from 745 patients, mean age 41.3+/-12.6 years, were drawn from a population of smokers admitted to State of Maryland inpatient mental health facilities (1994-2000). Records were reviewed to obtain demographic information, diagnosis, medication, smoking and substance use. 43% of patients were characterized as heavy smokers. Heavy and non-heavy groups did not differ in age, GAF, weight, or BMI. No differences were found in race, gender or antipsychotic treatments. However, patients smoking ≥ 1 packs per day were more likely to use other substances such as alcohol (χ(2)=6.67, df=1, p=0.01), cocaine (χ(2)=6.66, df=1, p=0.01), and other substances (χ(2)=9.95, df=1, p=0.003) compared to non-heavy smokers. No differences in cannabis or heroin use were found by smoking category. Controlling for age, race, sex and BMI, heavy smokers had higher total cholesterol (190.7(51.6)mg/dL) compared to non-heavy smokers (178.2 (43.0)mg/dL, p=0.03), but no differences were found in glucose or blood pressure. Heavy smoking may be a particular health risk in schizophrenia and significant efforts for smoking cessation or reduction are needed.

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