Postpartum tobacco use and perceived stress among alaska nativewomen: MAWPhase 4 study

Christi A. Patten, Kathryn R. Koller, Christie A. Flanagan, Vanessa Hiratsuka, Zoe T. Merritt, Flora Sapp, Crystal D. Meade, Christine A. Hughes, Paul A. Decker, Neil Murphy, Timothy K. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prior research explored reasons for tobacco use among pregnant Alaska Native (AN) women but did not address the postpartum period. This study followed up with AN women one to three years postpartum who had participated in a prenatal smoking cessation intervention study (Motivate AlaskaWomen (MAW) Phase 3) and had consented to be re-contacted for future studies. Of 47 eligible women, 32 (68%) participated. A semi-structured phone interview was conducted a mean of 2.0 years after delivery (range 1.6-2.8). Measures assessed self-reported tobacco use status in the 12 months after delivery, at 12 months postpartum, and at the time of the interview; reasons for maintaining abstinence, continued use, or relapse; and included the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Negative Affect (NA) scale. Content analysis was used to generate themes from open-ended response items. Tobacco use was reported by 23 women (72%) at delivery, 30 (94%) within the 12 months after delivery, 27 (84%) at 12 months postpartum, and 29 (91%) at the time of the interview. Among nine women not using tobacco at delivery, seven (78%) relapsed during the 12 months after delivery. Of the 29 current tobacco users, 28 (97%) smoked cigarettes. Twenty-seven participants (84%) reported stress and 15 (52%) indicated addiction as reasons for continuing, starting, or resuming tobacco use. Types of stressors were related to parenting and traumatic experiences. Among current tobacco users, mean NA score (18.7) was significantly higher (p = 0.01) than the normative mean (14.8), but no differences were detected for PSS score. In this sample of AN women, postpartum tobacco use was highly prevalent, and stress was a primary reason that women endorsed for using tobacco. These preliminary results have several practice and research implications for exploring ways to support non-tobacco use among postpartum AN women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3024
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Alaska native
  • Postpartum
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Tobacco
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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