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Cancer Control Research

1R13DA024956-01
Higgins, Stephen T.
WOMEN AND SMOKING: UNDERSTANDING SOCIOECONOMIC INFLUENCES

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (reflected from application): Health disparities among disadvantaged women is a concern shared throughout the NIH, including NIDA and NCI. As was noted above, 170,000 deaths per year among women in the U.S. are attributable to smoking-related causes. The proportion of those women who are socioeconomically disadvantaged is growing (e.g., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). These women on average are least likely to respond to prevention and treatment interventions. Greater scientific understanding of the important social, behavioral, pharmacological, and biological controlling variables involved in this problem are needed if more effective interventions and policies are to be developed. Researchers from a number of different disciplines are studying the problem, but interdisciplinary efforts are lacking. This conference has the potential to enhance recognition of the urgency of the problem, embed the problem in a broader context with regard to other types of substance abuse as well as other non-substance-related public health problems, and perhaps most importantly foster interdisciplinary research efforts. For example, how the strong socioeconomic influences on smoking are to be reconciled with the strong heritability estimates coming out of genetics studies on smoking is unclear and investigators from the relevant disciplines need to be discussing those challenges (e.g., Graham et al., 2007; Uhl et al., 2007). As another example, sociological and epidemiological research documents an important potential moderating effect of education on the risk of smoking, but says little about how education would produce those effects (e.g., Graham et al., 2007). Research being conducted on executive function and risky choice among smokers by behavioral neuroscientists has the potential to advance understanding in that area (e.g., Johnson et al., 2007). There are many other examples where research on this general problem could be advanced through interdisciplinary efforts. To our knowledge, those interdisciplinary efforts are not occurring to any great extent currently. By inviting leaders from these different disciplines to participate in a single-track conference where they will listen to each other's presentations and have ample opportunity to ask each other questions has the potential to significantly improve upon that situation. By publishing the proceedings in a peer-reviewed journal that opportunity is enhanced even further because now interested professionals who did and did not attend the conference have the opportunity to examine each other's work in careful detail.


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