Health care access and seven-year change in cigarette smoking. The CARDIA Study

Am J Prev Med. 1998 Aug;15(2):146-54. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(98)00044-0.


Objectives: To determine associations among health care access, cigarette smoking, and change in cigarette smoking status over 7 years.

Methods: A cohort of 4,086 healthy young adults was followed from 1985-1986 through 1992-1993. Participants were recruited from four urban sites balanced on gender, race (African Americans and whites), education (high school or less, and more than high school), and age (18-23 and 24-30). Outcome measures were smoking status at Year 7, as well as 7-year rates of smoking cessation and initiation.

Results: For each of three access barriers reported at Year 7 (lack of health insurance, lack of regular source of medical care, and expense), participants experiencing the barrier had a higher prevalence of smoking, quit smoking less frequently, and started smoking more frequently; e.g., only 15% of participants with health insurance lapses quit smoking over the 7-year period, compared with 26% of those with insurance (P < 0.001). Results were similar for each race/gender stratum, and persisted after adjustment for usual markers of socioeconomic status: education, income, employment, and marital status.

Conclusions: Health care access was associated with lower prevalence of smoking and beneficial 7-year changes in smoking, independent of socioeconomic status. The possibility that this is a causal relationship has implications in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and multiple other smoking-related diseases, and deserves further exploration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Medical Indigency / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology