Characteristics of Urban Inpatient Smokers With and Without Chronic Pain: Foundations for Targeted Cessation Programs

Gwendolyn R. Cody, Binhuan Wang, Alissa R. Link, Scott E. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cigarette smoking and chronic pain are prevalent, comorbid conditions with significant consequences for individuals and society. Despite overlap between smoking and chronic pain, and pain’s role as a potential barrier to quitting, there are no validated interventions targeted for smokers with chronic pains (SWCPs). Objective: To compare characteristics of urban inpatient smokers with and without chronic pain to inform the development of SWCP-targeted cessation interventions. Methods: This study reports partial results from a randomized comparative effectiveness trial of two smoking cessation interventions (NCT01363245). Participants were enrolled at two safety net hospitals in New York, NY in 2011–2014. Data were collected from the electronic health record and an interviewer-administered survey. Participants were considered to have chronic pain if they affirmed having “long-lasting, persistent, or chronic pain in the last six months” on survey. Results: Among smokers assessed for pain (n = 1093), the prevalence of chronic pain was 44%. SWCPs were more likely to report depressive symptoms and to have a history of psychiatric diagnosis (nonsubstance related) than smokers without pain. Severe problems with mobility and with performing usual activities were more common in SWCPs. No significant difference was observed in sex, race, education, nicotine dependence level, confidence in quit ability, or history of substance misuse. Conclusions/Importance: Chronic pain in smokers admitted to safety net hospitals is prevalent and associated with hindered mobility, history of psychiatric diagnosis, and prescription opioid use. Urban safety net hospitals are an appropriate setting in which to pilot SWCP-targeted cessation programs, which should be designed with consideration for patients’ psychiatric history and mobility status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1145
Number of pages8
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 7 2019


  • Smoking cessation; chronic pain; tobacco use disorder; cigarette smoking; inpatients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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