Characteristics of and reasons for electronic cigarette use among adult smokers with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder

BACKGROUND: The objective of our study was to determine lifetime and current e-cigarette use among adult cigarette smokers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and to describe characteristics of these e-cigarette users.

METHODS: Adult daily tobacco smokers with schizophrenia who were psychiatrically stable in outpatient treatment (n = 162) were enrolled in a motivational intervention study from 2013 to 2015 and followed for 6 months. Approximately 80% (n = 140) completed a 6-month follow-up, including the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health survey.

RESULTS: Among the 140 participants, 46% (n = 64) reported ever using e-cigarettes and 15% (n = 21) reported current use. Participants were significantly more likely to report ever-use if they were younger (Chi-square = 11.7, P < .01), lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) (Chi-square = 4.8, P = .03), or reported recent drug use (Chi-square = 6.5, P = .01). In a multivariate model, only age remained a significant predictor of ever-use (coefficient: 0.03; P = .02). The most common reasons for using e-cigarettes were “helps people quit cigarettes” and “less harmful to me or to people around me than cigarettes.” Current e-cigarette users had significantly lower carbon monoxide levels than past e-cigarettes users (T = 2.08, P = .04).

CONCLUSIONS: Almost one-half of smokers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder reported ever using e-cigarettes. Interventions for tobacco use among this demographic should incorporate recognition of e-cigarette use, particularly among younger adults, illicit drug users, and LGB individuals.

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