Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 237–248

Education and Smoking: Confounding or Effect Modification by Phenotypic Personality Traits?

Authors

    • Laboratory of Personality and Development, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Rochester Medical Center
  • Kevin Fiscella
    • Department of Family MedicineUniversity of Rochester Medical Center
    • Department of Community and Preventive MedicineUniversity of Rochester Medical Center
  • Paul Duberstein
    • Laboratory of Personality and Development, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Rochester Medical Center
  • Ichiro Kawachi
    • Department of Society, Human Development, and HealthHarvard School of Public Health
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12160-009-9142-3

Cite this article as:
Chapman, B., Fiscella, K., Duberstein, P. et al. ann. behav. med. (2009) 38: 237. doi:10.1007/s12160-009-9142-3

Abstract

Background

Little is known about whether educational gradients in smoking patterns can be explained by financial measures of socioeconomic status (SES) and/or personality traits.

Purpose

To assess whether the relationship of education to (1) never smoking and (2) having quit smoking would be confounded by financial measures of SES or by personality; whether lower Neuroticism and higher Conscientiousness would be associated with having abstained from or quit smoking; and whether education effects were modified by personality.

Method

Using data from the Midlife Development in the US National Survey, 2,429 individuals were classified as current (n = 695), former (n = 999), or never (n = 735) smokers. Multinomial logistic regressions examined study questions.

Results

Greater education was strongly associated with both never and former smoking, with no confounding by financial status and personality. Never smoking was associated with lower Openness and higher Conscientiousness, while have quit was associated with higher Neuroticism. Education interacted additively with Conscientiousness to increase and with Openness to decrease the probability of never smoking.

Conclusions

Education and personality should be considered unconfounded smoking risks in epidemiologic and clinical studies. Educational associations with smoking may vary by personality dispositions, and prevention and intervention programs should consider both sets of factors.

Keywords

Socioeconomic statusSmokingPersonality traitsMidlife Development in the United States (MIDUS)Social epidemiology

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2009