Exercise as an add-on therapy in smoking cessation in patients with mental illness

Supported by funds of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank
(Austrian Central Bank, Anniversary Fund, project number: 17942)


 In terms of exercise interventions in combination with smoking cessation, a project of the group of sport psychology focus on exercise as an add-on therapy in smoking cessation in people with mental illness. Smoking is the most common substance abuse in individuals with mental disorders. The prevalence rates for people with mental illness are two to four times higher than in the general population. In contrast to a decrease in smoking in healthy individuals, the number of smokers with mental disorders doesn’t decrease. Unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking, low levels of confidence in their ability to quit and more focus of smoking cessation efforts on the general population indicate that smokers with mental illness may benefit from additional strategies for quitting.

As part of the project, a randomized controlled clinical trial in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics of the Medical University of Innsbruck is conducted. People with mental illness taking part in the study will receive a standardized smoking cessation program. Additionally, they will be assigned randomly to an add-on exercise group or a social contact control group. Measurement points at the beginning, during intervention, at the end and 6 and 12 months follow-up serve to evaluate the effect of the smoking cessation program in combination with the exercise intervention on different aspects such as smoking reduction, craving and withdrawal symptoms, quality of life, physical activity and affective responses.

The project will also include an online survey for smokers with and without a mental disorder. The aim of the questionnaire is to identify barriers and motivational factors for smoking cessation. The expectations of the consulted persons regarding an appropriate smoking cessation program and their opinion on smoking cessation in combination with exercise are also investigated. To reach the target group, we collaborate with various forums such as https://www.psychic.de and https://www.depression-diskussion.de/ that share the online survey on their websites.

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