Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Study Examines Effectiveness of Treatments to Help Veterans with Mental Health Issues Quit Smoking

July 10, 2007

HOUSTON - The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) is conducting a clinical research study comparing the feasibility and effectiveness of two treatment approaches for veterans suffering from schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and/or manic-depression who want to quit smoking. The study focuses on both veterans who smoke at least five cigarettes a day and meet other study eligibility criteria.

Schizophrenia is a highly prevalent disorder in the VA patient population and is associated with high rates of smoking in comparison to general VA enrollees. Despite advances in pharmacological and behavioral treatments for tobacco use disorder, health care organizations are deficient in delivery of these treatments to clinical populations. Insufficient smoking cessation interventions within the VA fail to serve patients who are at highest risk for tobacco use, specifically, those with chronic mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Although smoking cessations approaches that work for non-schizophrenic patients such as behavioral counseling and medications also appear to have some efficacy for schizophrenic smokers, a major obstacle in providing smoking cessation treatment to patients with schizophrenia is poor attendance.

In an effort to improve attendance rates, “this study proposes an examination of the effectiveness of providing contingent incentives as an intervention in smoking cessation treatment in schizophrenic populations,” said Thomas Kosten, M.D., senior advisor on Substance Abuse based in the Mental Health Care Line and the principal investigator on this study.

Study participation involves up to 11 weeks of group-based smoking cessation treatment and other proven treatment approaches, along with two individual follow-up interviews at three months and six months after treatment.

“Smoking tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S.  We are excited to be a part of research to learn how best to help veterans stop smoking and live healthier, better quality lives,” said Jill McGavin, Ph.D., Substance Dependence & Vocational Rehabilitation Program director.

This research study has been approved by the MEDVAMC Research Committee and Baylor College of Medicine Investigative Review Board. Eligible participants may be compensated for their time and travel. For more information, contact your MEDVAMC mental health care provider for a referral, or call Avila Steele at (713) 794-8557 or Coreen Domingo at (713) 794-8619.

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