Effect of nicotine replacement therapy on stress and smoking behavior in surgical patients

David O. Warner, Christi A. Patten, Steven C. Ames, Kenneth P. Offord, Darrell R. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Many surgical patients are dependent on nicotine. Smoke-free policies in Healthcare facilities mandate abstinence from smoking, which could contribute to psychological stress in the perioperative period. The authors tested the hypothesis that nicotine replacement therapy decreases psychological stress in cigarette smokers scheduled to undergo elective surgery and determined whether nicotine replacement therapy affects postoperative smoking behavior, even when not specifically prescribed to promote abstinence. Methods: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 121 smokers, of whom 116 received a study intervention, were randomly assigned to receive either active (nicotine-containing) or placebo patches, beginning on the morning of surgery and continuing for up to 30 days after discharge from the hospital. Outcomes included the Perceived Stress Score, the Nicotine Withdrawal Score, and subject self-report of smoking behavior. Results: The Perceived Stress Score and the Nicotine Withdrawal Score did not change significantly from baseline over the immediate perioperative period and did not differ between active or placebo patch groups (all P > 0.19). The percentage of placebo versus active patch subjects reporting 7-day abstinence at 30 days postoperatively (30% vs. 39%; P = 0.29) did not differ significantly between groups. At 30 days postoperatively, subjects in both groups significantly reduced their cigarettes smoked per day from baseline, but those receiving active patches reported a greater decrease (a mean decrease of 11 ± 11 vs. 15 ± 7 cigarettes/day in placebo and active groups; P = 0.045). Conclusion: Routine nicotine replacement therapy is not indicated in smokers undergoing surgery for the purposes of managing nicotine withdrawal and stress but can modify some aspects of postoperative smoking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1146
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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