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It used to be thought that people with schizophrenia ‘self-medicated’ with cigarettes to improve mood and cognitive function that is impaired in schizophrenia and impaired by the anti-psychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia. However, Mendelian randomisation studies now suggest that smoking is a risk factor for developing schizophrenia as well as depression. It is plausible then that stopping smoking reduces the symptom burden in schizophrenia. In light of this the aim of this doctorate is to:

  1. Conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis, ideally using individual participant data, to examine the impact of stopping on symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disturbance.
  2. Use general practice records (big data) from CPRD to assess the impact of smoking cessation on the use of antipsychotic medication (duration of use, dose) and hospitalisation for schizophrenia.
  3. Conduct a qualitative synthesis and qualitative enquiry with people with schizophrenia who smoke to present the new information and understand whether this addresses people’s confidence to make a quit attempt and the support they would want with that attempt. This will feed into an intervention to support smoking cessation in people with serious mental illness.

Supervisory team