The Association Between Smoking Abstinence and Pain Trajectory Among Veterans Engaged in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Care

Patrick J. Hammett, Michael S. Businelle, Brent C. Taylor, Christopher R. Erbes, Lori Bastian, Neal Doran, Scott E. Sherman, Erin S. Rogers, Diana J. Burgess, Steven S. Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To prospectively examine associations between smoking and nicotine abstinence and pain trajectory over 12 months among smokers with low, moderate, and severe pain and to assess whether these associations differ over time. DESIGN: A secondary analysis of the "Proactive Outreach for Smokers in VA Mental Health" study, a randomized controlled trial of proactive outreach for veteran smokers engaged in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health care. METHODS: Participants were categorized into "low" (n = 616), "moderate" (n = 479), and "severe" pain (n = 656) groups according to baseline pain score. Associations between self-reported abstinence from smoking and nicotine at 6 and 12 months and pain trajectory, measured via the PEG scale (Pain intensity, Enjoyment of life, General activity) composite score, were assessed through the use of general linear mixed models. Interaction tests assessed whether these associations differed at 6 and 12 months. Analyses were conducted within the overall sample and within the separate pain groups. RESULTS: There were significant interactions in the overall sample and the low and moderate pain groups, such that 7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence was associated with lower pain scores at 6 but not 12 months. In the severe pain group, 7-day abstinence from both smoking and nicotine was associated with lower pain scores across both time points. Six-month prolonged abstinence was not associated with pain scores. CONCLUSIONS: In this prospective analysis conducted among veteran smokers engaged in mental health services, 7-day abstinence from smoking and nicotine was associated with significantly lower levels of pain. Education efforts could help better inform smokers on the relationship between smoking and pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1793-1803
Number of pages11
JournalPain medicine (Malden, Mass.)
Volume22
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 6 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.

Keywords

  • Mental Health
  • Nicotine Abstinence
  • Pain
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Veterans

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