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Susana Verdinelli


Cigarette smoking in adults with serious mental illness (SMI) has increased even when accounting for a decrease of smoking among the general population. Most of the research has focused on the prevalence, rates, and effects of smoking in adults with SMI. Little research has examined the motivations for smoking and experiences with smoking cessation among adults with SMI. Such an understanding may facilitate a reduction in smoking in this population. To address this gap in the literature, 12 adults with SMI who live in the southern Nevada area and smoke were selected through invitations distributed at a treatment facility and the use of the snowball technique. Interviews were designed to elicit these adults' views and experiences of smoking and smoking cessation. The health belief model provided the conceptual framework for this phenomenological study. Interview data were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed with emergent codes and themes. Three major themes emerged from participant stories: perceived benefits to cigarette smoking, problems related to smoking cessation, and risks related to cigarette smoking. Results indicated that participants found a sense of relaxation and means of socialization while smoking. Despite attempts to quit smoking, participants struggled with the withdrawals of nicotine which led to continuous smoking despite the negative consequences of smoking on their quality of life. This study contributes to positive social change by revealing the voices of adults with SMI, which helps illuminate a more holistic approach to treatment. Study findings may contribute in the development and implementation of smoking cessation programs for this specific population.

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