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Nurs Res. 2002 Jul-Aug;51(4):245-53.

Tobacco: an emerging topic in nursing research.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-6918, USA.



Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Since the first Surgeon General's Report in 1964 on the health risks of tobacco use, overwhelming evidence regarding increased tobacco-attributable morbidity and mortality has been reported. The purpose of this review was to explore nursing research contributions to this public health issue by evaluating the emergence of publications focused on tobacco in a leading nursing research journal.


The specific aims of this review were to determine, among data-based articles published in Nursing Research (1952-2000), how often tobacco use was included (a) in sample descriptions, (b) as a variable potentially associated with study outcomes, and (c) as a finding. Additionally, the frequency of publication of research instruments developed to study tobacco use was evaluated.


Data-based articles (n = 1,705) and research briefs (n = 197) were evaluated. Inter-rater reliability (100%) was established by the re-review of 20% of the issues in each decade.


A total of 40 data-based articles (2% of those reviewed) either included tobacco use in the sample description only (n = 11), as an independent or mediating variable (n = 11), or as a finding (n = 18). The majority (53%) of the articles were published since 1990; and 71% of the outcome studies were published within the past 5 years. One study focused on tobacco use among youth, and 1 of 197 instrument articles reviewed focused on tobacco. None of the studies reviewed addressed prevention of tobacco use or strategies to decrease exposure to second-hand smoke.


This review demonstrates that the cessation of tobacco use is emerging as a topic for nursing research, reflecting the increased public health attention on this topic. Increased research efforts are needed in the areas of tobacco cessation and prevention of tobacco use. Researchers should be encouraged to consider tobacco use as a variable potentially affecting outcomes in other research studies.

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