Tobacco use and measuring nicotine dependence among urban indigenous pregnant women

Kathryn S. Panaretto*, Melvina R. Mitchell, Lynette Anderson, Conor Gilligan, Petra Buettner, Sarah L. Larkins, Sandra Eades

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)



To examine patterns of nicotine dependence, the value of the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) and its correlation with self-reported tobacco use and urinary cotinine concentrations among pregnant Indigenous women in Townsville. 

Design, participants and setting:

Cross-sectional study of 201 consecutive women who self-reported tobacco use at their first antenatal visit to Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service (TAIHS) between 1 November 2005 and 31 October 2007. All smokers were to be assessed by FTND, and 108 women participating in the Tilly's Tracks project (a randomised trial of an intervention to reduce smoking in pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women) were to have a comprehensive smoking history taken and urinary cotinine samples collected. 

Main outcome measures: 

Self-reported smoking status, FTND scores and urinary cotinine concentrations. 


Of 302 Indigenous women presenting to TAIHS, 201 (66.6%) identified as current tobacco users at their first antenatal visit; this proportion rose to 79.6% in women aged < 20 years. An FTND was completed for 152 women (75.6%), with a median score of 4, and 40.1% scoring 3 or less, indicating low levels of nicotine dependence. There were significant correlations between the FTND and number of cigarettes smoked (ρ=0.56; P< 0.001) and urinary cotinine concentrations (ρ=0.25; P= 0.030). Of those who provided comprehensive smoking histories, the median age of starting smoking was 15 years, with a median of two previous quit attempts; 71.4% reported partners who smoked and 27.3% reported smoking occurred inside the house. 


The use of the FTND in Indigenous pregnant women may assess physical nicotine dependence, thus providing information that will help in preparing quit-smoking plans, including tailoring of pharmacological support to individual need. Quit-smoking programs that better address the behavioural and psychological aspects of smoking within the Indigenous community in Australia are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-557
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


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