Tobacco use among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities




Eisenbaum, Elaine Nicole

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Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death and greatly increases risk for numerous diseases and health complications. There is a multitude of research on tobacco use among a variety of populations but little research on tobacco use among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). People with IDD already have poorer health than the general population, and tobacco use may compound existing health issues. Using a sample of U.S. Special Olympics athletes aged 18+ with IDD, this dissertation examined the types of tobacco products they use, the frequency and amount of their cigarette use, and the prevalence and correlates of their tobacco use. This study’s main contribution is in documenting tobacco use among people with IDD since the public may not realize that people with IDD use tobacco at all. Of the 13,815 U.S. Special Olympics athletes who reported whether or not they use tobacco, the prevalence rate was 6.2% (8.1% for men and 3.8% for women). Subsample analyses (n=3,587) found that family member tobacco use was correlated with both men and women’s tobacco use, suggesting that prevention and cessation efforts for people with IDD include these individuals. Men’s tobacco use was also correlated with older age, higher systolic blood pressure, and less than daily fruits and vegetable consumption, suggesting that men with IDD may benefit from tobacco prevention programs that aim to improve overall health. Of the Special Olympics athletes who reported on type of tobacco product used (n=501), 73.6% used cigarettes only. Of the cigarette smokers, 79.6% were daily smokers, suggesting that people with IDD who smoke cigarettes are just as likely as smokers in the general U.S. population to smoke daily. Results should be interpreted cautiously, as the sample does not represent the general population of people with IDD and the variables available for inclusion were limited. This dissertation is a starting point for making improvements in studying tobacco use and preventing or reducing tobacco use among people with IDD, with the goal of improving health-related quality of life for people with IDD.



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