Risk behaviors related to cigarette smoking among persons with spinal cord injury

Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Feb;16(2):224-30. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt153. Epub 2013 Oct 29.


Introduction: Smoking, while detrimental to health in any population, has greater health implications for those with spinal cord injury (SCI) because of additional risks posed by SCI. The aims of this study were to document smoking status after SCI and to assess relationships between smoking status with injury severity and alcohol/pain medication use.

Methods: Participants (n = 1,076) were identified from a large rehabilitation hospital in the southeastern part of the United States. Eligibility criteria included (a) traumatic SCI resulting in residual impairment, (b) adult, and (c) 1+ years postinjury. Previous and current cigarette smoking and quitting attempts were assessed. Relationships were assessed between smoking status (current, former, and never), alcohol use, and pain medication use.

Results: Of participants (72% male, M age = 49.6 years, M = 16.1 years since SCI), 49.2% had never smoked, 28.2% were former smokers, and 22.6% were current smokers. Of current smokers, 39.2% attempted quitting in the past year and 77.2% had ever tried to quit. Only 29.9% of those who ever tried to quit sought professional help. Ambulatory persons, regardless of injury level, were 2.32 times more likely to be current smokers than nonambulatory persons with a high-level cervical injury. Lower socioeconomic status, binge drinking, and misuse of pain medication all predicted current smoking.

Conclusions: Smoking prevalence among persons with SCI is largely consistent with the general population. Additionally, we found smoking to be associated with other risk behaviors (binge drinking and prescription medication misuse) and differs by injury severity. Future studies should assess smoking interventions, which may differ by injury severity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires