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Association between dimensions of the psychosocial and physical work environment and latent smoking trajectories: a 16-year cohort study of the Canadian workforce
  1. Kathleen G Dobson1,2,
  2. Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet1,3,
  3. Cameron A Mustard1,2,
  4. Peter M Smith1,2,4
  1. 1Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec, Quebec, Canada
  4. 4Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Ms Kathleen G Dobson, Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, ON M5G 2E9, Canada; kathleen.dobson{at}


Background This study aimed to determine the number of latent smoking trajectories among Canadians employed in the workforce over a 16-year period, and if latent trajectories in dimensions of the physical and psychosocial work environment were associated with specific smoking trajectories.

Methods We studied 5461 employed adults from the longitudinal Canadian National Population Health Survey. Daily cigarette consumption was measured biannually from 1994 to 2010. Work environment factors (skill discretion, decision authority, psychological demands, job insecurity, physical exertion and workplace social support) were measured in 1994 and then from 2000 to 2010 using an abbreviated form of the Job Content Questionnaire. Smoking and work environment trajectories were derived using group-based trajectory modelling. Associations between work environment trajectory classes and smoking trajectory classes were estimated using multinomial logistic regression.

Results Four latent smoking trajectories were seen: non-smokers; ceasing smokers (consuming ~14 cigarettes/day in 1994 and 0 in 2008–2010); smokers (consuming ~7 cigarettes/day between 1994 and 2010); and heavy smokers (consuming ~22 cigarettes/day in 1994 and ~14 in 2010). Lower skill discretion, high psychological demands, high physical exertion and low social support trajectories were associated with membership in the heavy smoking trajectory compared with the non-smoking trajectory. Low decision authority, high psychological demands and high physical exertion trajectories were associated with membership in the ceasing compared with the non-smoking trajectory.

Conclusions Certain physical and psychosocial work environment trajectories were associated with heavy and ceasing smoking behaviours over a 16-year period. The role of the work environment should be further considered in smoking cessation programmes.

  • psychology
  • public health
  • smoking
  • stress
  • epidemiology
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  • Contributors KGD aided in conceiving the study and its design, analysed and interpreted the data, drafted the initial manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted. MG-O aided in interpreting the data, and in reviewing and revising the manuscript. CAM conceived the study and its design, and aided in interpreting the data, and in reviewing and revising the manuscript. PMS conceived the study and its design, aided in analysing and interpreting the data, and in reviewing and revising the manuscript. All authors participated in approving the final version to be published and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work by ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work were appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding This work was supported through a project grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (grant number 310898). PMS is supported through a Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health from CIHR. KGD is supported through a CIHR doctoral scholarship. MG-O is supported through a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship. Access to the data for this paper was enabled through Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centre at the University of Toronto.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the University of Toronto Health Sciences Research Ethics Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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