Pain Intensity and Smoking Behavior Among Treatment Seeking Smokers

Psychiatry Res. 2016 Mar 30;237:67-71. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.01.073. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Empirical evidence supporting the interplay between pain intensity and tobacco smoking has been growing. The current investigation advances this work in three important ways: (1) controlling for negative affectivity and gender; (2) examining pain intensity in smokers from a community sample, rather than specialized pain treatment centers; and, (3) studying smokers who are highly motivated to quit. Participants were adult smokers (N=112; 35% female; Mage=41.4, SD=13.1) participating in a larger study examining barriers to cessation during a self-guided quit attempt. At baseline, participants completed self-report measures on pain intensity and smoking severity outcomes. As hypothesized, more intense pain was significantly associated with all four smoking severity variables: years as a daily smoker, current cigarettes per day, cigarettes per day during the heaviest lifetime smoking period, and current level of nicotine dependence. These associations remained when taking into account the variance accounted for by gender and negative affectivity. These data provide evidence that more intense pain is related to more severe smoking behavior and nicotine dependence. Pain reduction could be an important target in regard to smokers with chronic pain.

Keywords: Addiction; Behavior; Emotion; Nicotine dependence; Pain intensity; Tobacco smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy*
  • Young Adult