Does deterioration in mental health after smoking cessation predict relapse to smoking?

Gemma Taylor, Ann McNeill, Paul Aveyard

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Background: It is possible that some people who quit smoking experience improved mental health after cessation and therefore remain abstinent, whereas other people who quit may experience worse mental health after cessation and therefore be more likely to relapse to smoking. Thus, in this study we aimed to examine the association between an enduring change in mental health following the cessation period and future risk of relapse. Methods: A secondary analysis of prospective data pooled from five placebo-controlled randomised trials for smoking reduction conducted in Europe, USA and Australia. Change in mental health (SF-36, scored 0-100) was measured from baseline to four months for those who were biologically-validated as point-prevalence abstainers at four month follow-up. Thereafter we assessed whether relapse to smoking by 12 months was more likely in those whose mental health had worsened between baseline and four months compared with those who saw no change or an improvement. Results: After adjustment for baseline mental health and other major covariates, there was no greater tendency to relapse at 12 months for those whose mental health worsened after cessation compared with those who had no change or an improvement. The odds ratio and 95 % confidence interval was 1.01 (0.97 to 1.05). Conclusions: People whose mental health worsens after smoking cessation are at no greater risk of subsequent relapse to smoking than those whose mental health stays the same or improves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1150
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2015


  • Epidemiology
  • Mental health
  • Relapse
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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