Electronic cigarette use in patients with schizophrenia: Prevalence and attitudes

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BACKGROUNDSmoking is highly prevalent in patients with schizophrenia. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are becoming increasingly popular among smokers. Surveys indicate overall favorable attitudes toward the use of e-cigarettes to reduce or quit smoking, relieve withdrawal symptoms, and with respect to perceived health risks; however, less is known about their use in patients with schizophrenia. In the present study, we investigated the prevalence of and attitudes toward e-cigarettes in patients with schizophrenia.METHODSSixty inpatients and outpatients age 18 to 70 with schizophrenia completed a brief survey on e-cigarette use.RESULTSThirty-seven percent of participants reported having tried e-cigarettes, 24% of never-users were considering use, and 7% were current users. Thirty-four percent of surveyed patients believed that the health effects of e-cigarettes were less harmful than regular cigarettes. Health benefits (39%), cutting down (37%), and quitting smoking (37%) were the most frequently cited potential advantages, whereas cost (33%) was the most common potential disadvantage of e-cigarettes. Participants who were ever-users reported that regular cigarettes were significantly more helpful with reducing symptoms such as depression/anxiety, impaired concentration, and paranoia, than e-cigarettes (P < .05 for each).CONCLUSIONSThese preliminary findings should be investigated in larger samples, but suggest that e-cigarettes have, at best, modest relevance to smoking cessation in patients with schizophrenia.

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