The introduction of smoke-free policies is increasingly common in mental health settings, to improve health. However, a barrier to implementing smoke-free polices is staff concern that violence will increase. We conducted a systematic review comparing the rates of violence before and after the introduction of smoke-free policies in mental health settings. Two authors searched major electronic databases. We included studies reporting the prevalence of violence (verbal and/or physical or combined) before and after the introduction of a smoke-free policy in a mental health, forensic, or addiction setting. We included 11 studies in the review. A narrative synthesis was used to describe the key results of each study. Six studies measured physical violence specifically; four reported a decrease or no change and two reported a short-term increase. Five of these six studies also measured verbal violence; two found an increase, with one of the studies reporting that this increase was temporary. Three reported a decrease in verbal violence. A further five studies evaluated the rate of combined verbal and physical violence; four reported a decrease or no change and the other an increase. We conclude that the introduction of smoke-free policies generally does not lead to an increase in violence. There is a need for more robust studies to support this finding. However, the conclusions from this review may be a step in reducing staff concerns.
Gilda Spaducci MSc, Brendon Stubbs PhD, Ann McNeill PhD, Duncan Stewart PhD, Debbie Robson PhD
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 21 December 2017