Post-traumatic stress disorder and smoking: A systematic review

Steven S Fu, Miles McFall, Andrew J. Saxon, Jean C. Beckham, Timothy P. Carmody, Dewleen G. Baker, Anne M Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


We conducted a systematic review of what is known about the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and smoking to guide research on underlying mechanisms and to facilitate the development of evidence-based tobacco treatments for this population of smokers. We searched Medline, PsychINFO, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and identified 45 studies for review that presented primary data on PTSD and smoking. Smoking rates were high among clinical samples with PTSD (40%-86%) as well as nonclinical populations with PTSD (34%-61%). Most studies showed a positive relationship between PTSD and smoking and nicotine dependence, with odds ratios ranging between 2.04 and 4.52. Findings also suggest that PTSD, rather than trauma exposure itself, is more influential for increasing risk of smoking. A small but growing literature has examined psychological factors related to smoking initiation and maintenance and the overlapping neurobiology of PTSD and nicotine dependence. Observational studies indicate that smokers with PTSD have lower quit rates than do smokers without PTSD. Yet a few tobacco cessation treatment trials in smokers with PTSD have achieved quit rates comparable with controlled trials of smokers without mental disorders. In conclusion, the evidence points to a causal relationship between PTSD and smoking that may be bidirectional. Specific PTSD symptoms may contribute to smoking and disrupt cessation attempts. Intervention studies that test behavioral and pharmacological interventions designed specifically for use in patients with PTSD are needed to reduce morbidity and mortality in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1084
Number of pages14
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007


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