Smoking Cessation and Chronic Pain: Patient and Pain Medicine Physician Attitudes

Pain Pract. Nov-Dec 2011;11(6):552-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2011.00462.x. Epub 2011 Apr 25.


Although previous studies suggest that the clinical setting of an interdisciplinary pain treatment program may provide an optimal environment to promote smoking cessation, currently available smoking cessation interventions may be less effective for adults with chronic pain due, in part, to unrecognized clinical factors related to chronic pain. The specific aim of this qualitative study was to solicit information from adult smokers with chronic pain participating in an interdisciplinary pain treatment program regarding their perceptions of how smoking affects pain symptoms, and how these beliefs, cognitions, and emotions may either impede or facilitate smoking cessation. Similar information was solicited from a group of pain specialty physicians. The study involved 18 smokers with chronic pain, and seven physicians. Patients reported that smoking was an important coping strategy for pain and distress, primarily by offering an opportunity for distraction and avoidance, respectively. The majority of patients using opioids reported that opioid consumption stimulated smoking. Important barriers were identified toward making a quit attempt during pain treatment including quitting smoking while making changes in opioid use, and perceived difficulty managing multiple treatment-related stressors. Several pain-related benefits of smoking cessation were identified by physicians, but important barriers to providing smoking cessation services were recognized including lack of time and knowledge about how to help patients quit smoking. The findings of this study identified several novel and important clinical factors that should be incorporated into a targeted smoking cessation intervention for adults with chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation* / methods
  • Smoking Cessation* / psychology