Perceived barriers to smoking cessation in selected vulnerable groups: A systematic review of the qualitative and quantitative literature

Laura Twyman, Billie Bonevski, Christine Paul, Jamie Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

291 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: To identify barriers that are common and unique to six selected vulnerable groups: low socioeconomic status; Indigenous; mental illness and substance abuse; homeless; prisoners; and at-risk youth. Design: A systematic review was carried out to identify the perceived barriers to smoking cessation within six vulnerable groups. Data sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsycInfo were searched using keywords and MeSH terms from each database's inception published prior to March 2014. Study selection: Studies that provided either qualitative or quantitative (ie, longitudinal, crosssectional or cohort surveys) descriptions of selfreported perceived barriers to quitting smoking in one of the six aforementioned vulnerable groups were included. Data extraction: Two authors independently assessed studies for inclusion and extracted data. Results: 65 eligible papers were identified: 24 with low socioeconomic groups, 16 with Indigenous groups, 18 involving people with a mental illness, 3 with homeless groups, 2 involving prisoners and 1 involving at-risk youth. One study identified was carried out with participants who were homeless and addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Barriers common to all vulnerable groups included: smoking for stress management, lack of support from health and other service providers, and the high prevalence and acceptability of smoking in vulnerable communities. Unique barriers were identified for people with a mental illness (eg, maintenance of mental health), Indigenous groups (eg, cultural and historical norms), prisoners (eg, living conditions), people who are homeless (eg, competing priorities) and at-risk youth (eg, high accessibility of tobacco). Conclusions: Vulnerable groups experience common barriers to smoking cessation, in addition to barriers that are unique to specific vulnerable groups. Individual-level, community-level and social networklevel interventions are priority areas for future smoking cessation interventions within vulnerable groups

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere006414
Number of pages15
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • tobacco
  • smoking cessation
  • social inequality
  • Vulnerable


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