Effects of smoking on patients with chronic pain: a propensity-weighted analysis on the Collaborative Health Outcomes Information Registry

Pain. 2019 Oct;160(10):2374-2379. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001631.


Tobacco smoking is associated with adverse health effects, and its relationship to pain is complex. The longitudinal effect of smoking on patients attending a tertiary pain management center is not well established. Using the Collaborative Health Outcomes Information Registry of patients attending the Stanford Pain Management Center from 2013 to 2017, we conducted a propensity-weighted analysis to determine independent effects of smoking on patients with chronic pain. We adjusted for covariates including age, sex, body mass index, depression and anxiety history, ethnicity, alcohol use, marital status, disability, and education. We compared smokers and nonsmokers on pain intensity, physical function, sleep, and psychological and mood variables using self-reported NIH PROMIS outcomes. We also conducted a linear mixed-model analysis to determine effect of smoking over time. A total of 12,368 patients completed the CHOIR questionnaire of which 8584 patients had complete data for propensity analysis. Smokers at time of pain consultation reported significantly worse pain intensities, pain interference, pain behaviors, physical functioning, fatigue, sleep-related impairment, sleep disturbance, anger, emotional support, depression, and anxiety symptoms than nonsmokers (all P < 0.001). In mixed-model analysis, smokers tended to have worse pain interference, fatigue, sleep-related impairment, anger, emotional support, and depression over time compared with nonsmokers. Patients with chronic pain who smoke have worse pain, functional, sleep, and psychological and mood outcomes compared with nonsmokers. Smoking also has prognostic importance for poor recovery and improvement over time. Further research is needed on tailored therapies to assist people with chronic pain who smoke and to determine an optimal strategy to facilitate smoking cessation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Propensity Score*
  • Registries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking / trends
  • Tertiary Care Centers / trends