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Subst Use Misuse. 2016 Aug 23;51(10):1393-7. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2016.1170143. Epub 2016 Jun 6.

Depression Symptoms Among Homeless Smokers: Effect of Motivational Interviewing.

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a Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology , Uniformed Services University of the Heath Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
b University of Minnesota Medical School , Minneapolis , Minnesota , USA.



Tobacco use is higher among homeless individuals than the general population. Homeless individuals are also more likely to have symptoms of depression. Depression symptoms may add to the burden of homelessness by increasing psychological distress and serve as a barrier to quitting smoking.


The primary goal of this study is to assess the impact of depression symptoms on psychological distress in homeless smokers. The effect of depression symptoms on abstinence and the effect of Motivational Interviewing (MI) on cessation among smokers is also explored.


Homeless smokers (N = 430) enrolled in a smoking cessation study were randomized to Motivational Interviewing (MI) or standard care (SC). Participants received nicotine replacement therapy and were followed for 26 weeks. Participants were categorized into a depression symptoms (DS) group or control group using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. Between group differences of perceived stress, hopelessness, confidence, craving and abstinence were assessed at weeks 8 and 26. The interaction between depression symptoms (levels: DS and control) and the intervention (levels: MI and SC) was also assessed.


Homeless smokers in the DS group reported higher levels of hopelessness, perceived stress, and craving. There was no effect of DS status on abstinence at week 8 or week 26. There was no significant interaction between depression symptoms (DS vs. Control) and the intervention (MI vs. SC).


Despite reporting greater psychological distress, homeless smokers with depression symptoms in this sample had abstinence levels similar to the control group. Future research should explore protective factors among depressed smokers.


Cessation; depression symptoms; homeless smokers; nicotine; tobacco

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