Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 1261–1271

Evidence of sex differences in the relationship between current tobacco use and past-year serious psychological distress: 2005–2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-012-0644-0

Cite this article as:
Peiper, N. & Rodu, B. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2013) 48: 1261. doi:10.1007/s00127-012-0644-0



Cigarette use is highly prevalent in psychiatric populations. Studies suggest that smokeless tobacco use is not significantly associated with past-year psychiatric morbidity, with evidence that tobacco use differ among sexes. The relationships between current tobacco use and past-year serious psychological distress, major depressive episode and anxiety disorder were therefore examined. Sex differences in the aforementioned relationship were also examined.


A total of 133,221 adults from four successive independent samples of the 2005–2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health were included. Prevalence odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals were calculated using multivariable logistic regression adjusting for demographic factors, survey year, pregnancy (women only), past-year medical morbidity, past-year psychiatric comorbidity, and past-year substance use disorders.


No associations were demonstrated among smokeless tobacco users. Statistically significant sex differences were found for current tobacco use and serious psychological distress (p < 0.001). Both male and female smokers were significantly more likely to have serious psychological distress and anxiety disorder compared to never users, while only female smokers were more likely to have major depressive episode. The strongest associations were found for anxiety disorder among all adults as well as both sexes.


The null associations for both sexes for smokeless tobacco may support a reduced risk profile. Female cigarette smokers may be more vulnerable to subclinical distress and depression than males. Studies using other nationally representative samples are needed to confirm these data.


Serious psychological distress Tobacco Smokeless tobacco Epidemiology 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, School of Public Health and Information SciencesUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA