Tobacco Use and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Individuals with Depression Who Are Receiving Treatment for HIV in Cape Town, South Africa

Amelia M. Stanton, Jasper S. Lee, Megan R. Wirtz, Lena S. Andersen, John Joska, Steven A. Safren, Richard van Zyl-Smit, Conall O’Cleirigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, and prevalence rates are high among people living with HIV (PLWH), particularly in men. Depression is also common among PLWH, especially among smokers, who may use tobacco to manage mood. Although HIV and depression have been linked to functional impairment and poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL), little research has examined the degree to which smoking impacts these relationships in low- and middle-income countries with high HIV burden. Method: Participants (N = 289) were people living with HIV (PLWH) who were being assessed for inclusion in a study targeting depression as a barrier to HIV medication adherence. Linear regression models measured the effect of gender on tobacco use (assessed by the WHO-ASSIST) and on each of the five HRQOL functional impairment domains (assessed by the SF-21). Separate multivariable regression models examined the relationships between habitual tobacco use, defined as daily, almost daily, or weekly use, and the HRQOL domains. Results: The prevalence of habitual tobacco use was 23.9% (48.1% among men, 15.5% among women). Habitual tobacco use was associated with decreased cognitive functioning for the whole sample (B = − 8.99, p < 0.05) and with lower levels of pain-related impairment for men (B = 18.1, p < 0.05). Although men reported more tobacco use (B = 8.50, p < 0.001), they reported less pain-related limitations than women (B = 8.70, p < 0.05). Conclusions: In our sample, men reported higher rates of habitual tobacco use than women. Smoking was associated with cognitive impairment and with less pain-related impairment among men. Future smoking cessation treatments tailored to PLWH who have symptoms of depression may benefit from strategies that consider pain management as a pathway to habitual smoking and recognize that motivations for use may differ by gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-430
Number of pages14
JournalInternational journal of behavioral medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Gender
  • Global mental health
  • HIV
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Tobacco use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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