Longitudinal Examination of the Influence of Individual Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Clusters of Symptoms on the Initiation of Cigarette Smoking

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Objectives:The aim of this study was to determine whether specific individual posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms or symptom clusters predict cigarette smoking initiation.Methods:Longitudinal data from the Millennium Cohort Study were used to estimate the relative risk for smoking initiation associated with PTSD symptoms among 2 groups: (1) all individuals who initially indicated they were nonsmokers (n = 44,968, main sample) and (2) a subset of the main sample who screened positive for PTSD (n = 1622). Participants were military service members who completed triennial comprehensive surveys that included assessments of smoking and PTSD symptoms. Complementary log-log models were fit to estimate the relative risk for subsequent smoking initiation associated with each of the 17 symptoms that comprise the PTSD Checklist and 5 symptom clusters. Models were adjusted for demographics, military factors, comorbid conditions, and other PTSD symptoms or clusters.Results:In the main sample, no individual symptoms or clusters predicted smoking initiation. However, in the subset with PTSD, the symptoms “feeling irritable or having angry outbursts” (relative risk [RR] 1.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13–1.76) and “feeling as though your future will somehow be cut short” (RR 1.19, 95% CI 1.02–1.40) were associated with increased risk for subsequent smoking initiation.Conclusions:Certain PTSD symptoms were associated with higher risk for smoking initiation among current and former service members with PTSD. These results may help identify individuals who might benefit from more intensive smoking prevention efforts included with PTSD treatment.

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