Cigarettes: A friend or an enemy? A qualitative study of experiences of smoking within mental health.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: It has been reported that individuals with a diagnosed mental illness have a significantly shorter life expectancy than the general population (Tam, Warner & Meza, 2016). Investigations of this have suggested a link between mental illness and chronic diseases, particularly those which have been associated with smoking (De Hert et al., 2011). A dispute between the results of the academic research in this area and the perceived effects of smoking by individuals was identified (Lawn, Pols, & Barber, 2002; Iasevoli, Balletta, Gilardi, Giordano & De Bartolomeis, 2013). Clarity as to why this vulnerable population has such a high prevalence of smoking was needed in order to develop further understanding. Aim: The current study aimed to explore the experiences of smokers with various diagnosed mental illnesses in the United Kingdom. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted using five participants from a crisis house in the Cardiff area. A thematic analysis was used to analyse the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results: Four overarching themes were identified; Cigarettes as a friend, Cigarettes as an enemy, Perceptions of smoking and The timeline of a smoker. Discussion: Aspects of the findings were concurrent with previous research, for example cigarettes being viewed as companions (Lawn et al., 2002). Other aspects contradicted these findings, for example there was little evidence that smoking was accepted as an identity while this was found within previous research (Lawn et al., 2002). New findings were also highlighted, such as an awareness of health implications in relation to smoking and the impact of others’ opinions of an individual’s smoking habits. Several implications of the research were identified in the light of providing support for individuals who smoke within community mental health services.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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