Health Services Research & Development

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Coughlin LN, Wilson SM, Erwin MC, Beckham JC, VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup , Calhoun PS. Cigarette smoking rates among veterans: Association with rurality and psychiatric disorders. Addictive Behaviors. 2019 Mar 1; 90:119-123.
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Abstract: AIMS: Compared to the general U.S. population, military veterans and those living in rural areas disproportionately smoke cigarettes at higher rates, leading to increased health consequences. In the current study, prevalence and severity of cigarette smoking in Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans was assessed across rural and urban areas and comorbid mental health disorders. METHOD: Iraq/Afghanistan era veterans who participated in the Post-Deployment Mental Health study from 2005 to 2017 (N?=?3229) were cross-sectionally assessed for the probability of being a current cigarette smoker based on locality status and psychiatric comorbidity. Multivariate logistic and linear regressions, adjusted for demographic characteristics, were used to model the odds of being a current smoker and the severity of nicotine dependence, respectively. RESULTS: Veterans residing in rural regions, veterans with psychiatric comorbidities, and the interaction of locality and psychiatric disorders were significantly associated with smoking rates. Those veterans living in extremely rural areas and, independently, those living with psychiatric comorbidities were also more severely dependent on nicotine compared to urban veterans and veterans without psychiatric conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Rural veterans and veterans with psychiatric comorbidities are at increased risk of smoking and are more severely dependent on nicotine than urban veterans. These findings underscore the need to reduce barriers for treatment both for smoking cessation and mental healthcare for veterans residing in the most rural areas.