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Current Major Depression Among Smokers Using a State Quitline


Background: Smokers seeking treatment to quit smoking are generally not assessed for current depression, yet depression among smokers may influence quitting outcome.

Purpose: This study aims to formally assess current major depression among smokers calling a state tobacco quitline.

Methods: A total of 844 smokers calling the California Smokers’ Helpline in 2007 were screened for depression by the mood module of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). The Social Functioning Questionnaire (SFQ) was also administered to these callers. Two months after the screening, follow-up evaluations were conducted to assess cessation outcome.

Results: In all, 24.2% of smokers met criteria for current major depression and 16.5% reported symptoms indicating mild depression. Callers with current major depression were more likely to be heavy smokers and on Medicaid. Moreover, 74.0% of smokers with current major depression had substantial social and occupational functioning deficits. Two months later, those with major depression at baseline were significantly less likely to have quit smoking (18.5% vs 28.4%).

Conclusions: Almost one in four smokers to the California Smokers’ Helpline met criteria for current major depression. Over 400,000 smokers call state quitlines in the U.S. for help with quitting each year, which means that as many as 100,000 smokers with serious depressive symptoms are using these services annually. The large number of depressed smokers who seek help suggests a need to develop appropriate interventions to help them quit successfully.

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