Smoking, social support, and hassles in an urban African-American community

Patrick S Romano, J. Bloom, S. L. Syme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Background. Despite public health efforts, the prevalence of smoking among African Americans remains high. The determinants of smoking behavior in this population must be elucidated so that interventions can be better targeted and more effective. Methods. As part of a prospective community intervention trial to reduce cancer mortality, we conducted a random household survey of 1137 African-American adults in San Francisco and Oakland between November 1985 and July 1986. The survey instrument included questions about social network characteristics, instrumental and emotional aspects of social support, smoking behavior, and stressors. Results. The overall prevalence of smoking (41.9%) was higher than that reported in national surveys. Logistic models revealed that persons reporting high levels of stress, represented by an abbreviated hassles index, were more likely to smoke than those reporting less stress. Women with poor social networks were more likely to smoke (odds ratio = 3.1) than women with optimal networks; however, this relationship did not hold among men. Indeed, men lacking emotional support from friends or family were less likely to smoke (odds ratio = 0.5) than men receiving such support. No interaction between social support and hassels was observed. Conclusions. Stressful environments may contribute to high-risk smoking behavior among urban African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1415-1422
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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