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IMAGE: Dartmouth Institute Assistant Professor Kelly Aschbrenner, Ph.D., led a study of how social networks influenced smoking outcomes among people with serious mental illness who participated in smoking cessation programs. view more 

Credit: Dartmouth Institute

People with serious mental illness (SMI) have a reduced life expectancy of up to 25 years compared to the general population. Smoking is one of the primary reasons for this disparity. An estimated 53 percent of adults with SMI, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depression, smoke cigarettes, whereas, only 18 percent of adults in the general population smoke. While studies have shown that most smokers with SMI want to quit, they are less likely to do so–or to take advantage of available smoking cessation treatments. In order to better understand why quit rates were so low among this group, researchers from Dartmouth College and Harvard Medical School explored how social networks (defined as social interactions and personal relationships) influenced smoking outcomes among people with SMI who participated in smoking cessation programs.

The researchers asked 41 people with serious mental illness, who participated in smoking cessation treatment in community mental health centers throughout New Hampshire, to identify their social contacts and their

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