Publication Abstract

Authors: Fernander AF, Shavers VL, Hammons GJ

Title: A biopsychosocial approach to examining tobacco-related health disparities among racially classified social groups.

Journal: Addiction 102 Suppl 2:43-57

Date: 2007 Oct

Abstract: AIMS: To articulate a broader, multi-causal model that incorporates psychosocial and environmental factors that can differ systematically across racially classified social groups (RCSGs) and impact biological pathways related to the development of tobacco-related diseases. METHODS: This paper is built upon a review of the existing scientific literature on selected biopsychosocial factors (diet/nutrition, obesity, alcoholic intake, psychosocial stress, occupational/environmental exposures and exposure to other diseases and illnesses) and tobacco use in examining the biological contributions to differences in tobacco-related health outcomes among RCSGs. FINDINGS: Recent work has focused on RCSG genetic variations as a possible explanation for differences in tobacco-related health disparities. It is argued in this paper that, given the genetic heterogeneity 'within' RCSGs, it is unlikely that across RCSG genetic variations are likely to be the major source of differences impacting biological pathways in tobacco-related health outcomes. The evidence shows that results, even at the level of within-population genetic variations, have been limited and often inconsistent. A conceptual framework is proposed to account for biological pathways related to the development of tobacco-related diseases. CONCLUSIONS: Determinants of tobacco-related health disparities are not understood clearly. The contribution of biological factors may be important. Current efforts to determine biological differences in tobacco use and related diseases among RCSGs have focused primarily on genetic variations. However, this approach has limitations. An alternative biopsychosocial framework that examines the potential biological mechanisms through which life experiences and behavior might affect tobacco use and health outcomes in these population groups is needed, including those of life-style (e.g. diet/nutrition, obesity, physical exercise, alcohol consumption), psychosocial (e.g. stress and coping), occupational/environmental exposures and the presence of other diseases/illnesses.