The rates and intensity of tobacco use are higher in persons with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (PwS) compared to the general population, contributing to increased morbidity and mortality. We aimed to systematically review randomised control trials (RCTs) that used non-pharmacological interventions to reduce or cease tobacco use in PwS.
We searched PubMed, EBSCO, ProQuest and PsycINFO for RCTs, published between January 2004 and December 2019, which included adult PwS. Studies providing self-reported or biochemically measured reduction of tobacco use and cessation after a minimum follow-up period of 6 months were included. We used the Cochrane Risk of Bias (ROB) tool for assessing the quality of selected studies.
Of the six included trials, two compared non-pharmacological interventions alone while four compared combinations with pharmacological interventions with routine care. The non-pharmacological interventions varied widely. Continuous abstinence and seven days point-prevalence abstinence (7 PPA) were reported in 2 and 4 studies respectively, with one study assessing both. All six trials measured reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked, but only two trials reported significant reductions in intervention groups. No worsening of psychiatric symptoms was reported.
Two trials were rated as “low risk”, and 4 trials as “some concerns” on the ROB tool. Heterogeneity among trials precluded meta-analysis. Abstinence was significantly higher among groups who were given combination interventions, and intervention groups in studies showed significantly greater or a trend towards reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked than controls. No specific method of non-pharmacological management was conclusively favoured.
Reduction in cigarettes smoked seemed to significantly favour or show non-significant trends favouring intervention groups over controls, while abstinence was significantly higher among groups in studies that used specific combination interventions. Combinations of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment were better than non-pharmacological interventions used in isolation, for facilitating abstinence and reduction in cigarettes smoked. Specific interventions such as home visits and contingent reinforcement merit further study. Trials included in this study were conducted in high-income and upper-middle-income countries. Thus, the application of these interventions to low and middle-income countries (LAMICs) needs to be further studied.