Longitudinal and Reciprocal Relationships Between Psychological Well-Being and Smoking

School of Public Health

Post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Sara Lappan, doctoral student, Mr. Christopher Thorne, and Dr. Peter Hendricks, Associate Professor, all from the department of health behavior, along with Dr. Dustin Long, an Assistant Professor from the department of biostatistics from the UAB School of Public Health collaborated on a study focused on smoking cessation.

Smoking cessation treatments currently succeed at a rate of approximately 20-30%, underscoring the importance of exploring factors that might increase intervention effectiveness. While negative affect has been studied extensively in relation to smoking cessation, psychological well-being (PWB; e.g., life satisfaction, optimism, positive affect, purpose in life) has received little attention. This study tested longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between PWB and smoking status in older adults.

Panel data were obtained from the biennial, longitudinal Health and Retirement Study. Using structural equation modeling, we developed cross-lagged models to examine the relationships of PWB in 2006 with smoking status in 2010 and of smoking status in 2006 with PWB in 2010 while controlling for covariates (Ns = 2939 to 4230, 55% women, 89% White, mean age = 64 years, mean years of education = 13, 25% smokers in 2006 and 21% smokers in 2010). Separate cross-lagged models were developed for each of the PWB variables: life satisfaction, optimism, positive affect, and purpose in life.

Greater life satisfaction (standardized path coefficient = -0.04), optimism (standardized path coefficient = -0.07), and positive affect (standardized path coefficient = -0.08) in 2006 predicted a reduced likelihood of smoking in 2010. Being a smoker in 2006 predicted lower life satisfaction (standardized path coefficient = -0.25), optimism (standardized path coefficient = -0.10), positive affect (standardized path coefficient = -0.10), and purpose in life (standardized path coefficient = -0.13) in 2010.

The authors conclude that the findings warrant further exploration of the relationships between PWB and smoking, and support the incorporation of PWB-boosting components into existing treatments.

Full Article.