Differential effect of sex on pain severity and smoking behavior and processes

Tanya Smit, Lorra Garey, Kirsten J. Langdon, Joseph W. Ditre, Andrew H. Rogers, Michael F. Orr, Michael J. Zvolensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Scientific evidence suggests that pain contributes to the maintenance of tobacco cigarette smoking among individuals with varying levels of pain. Yet, little is understood about factors that may moderate relations between pain severity and smoking processes. Considering that women are more likely to experience deleterious pain- and smoking-related outcomes, female smokers may be a particularly vulnerable group when considering pain in the maintenance of maladaptive smoking behavior. Thus, it is important to investigate the role of sex in pain-smoking relations. The current cross-sectional study examined sex differences in the relation between reported levels of pain and cessation-relevant smoking processes (i.e. cigarette dependence, barriers for cessation, and past cessation-related problems). Participants included 100 adult daily cigarette smokers (Mage = 32.57 years, SD = 13.58; 33% female). Results indicated that greater pain was significantly associated with greater cigarette dependence, greater perceived barriers to cessation, and greater cessation-related problems among female, but not male, smokers. The current findings identify sex as a potentially important moderator of complex associations between pain and tobacco smoking and suggests that women may constitute a group that is especially vulnerable to the effects of pain in the maintenance of tobacco dependence. Based on the present data, integrated pain-smoking treatments may be especially useful for female, versus male, smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Cigarettes
  • Nicotine
  • Pain
  • Sex
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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