Assessment of Nicotine Dependence among Smokers in a Selected Rural Population in Kerala, India.
Objectives: An attempt was made to understand the nicotine dependence of smokers selected for an ongoing smoking cessation intervention programme in rural Kerala, India. Methods: Data were collected from resident males in the age group of 18 to 60 years from 4 randomly allocated community development blocks of rural Thiruvananthapuram district (2 intervention and 2 control groups). Trained accredited social health activist workers were utilised to collect data from all groups through face to face interview. Nicotine dependence among participants was assessed by means of the six-item Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) translated into the local language. The internal consistency of FTND was computed using Cronbach's alpha coefficient. Criterion validity (concurrent) was assessed by correlations of nicotine dependence scores with age at initiation of smoking and cumulative smoking volume in pack-years. Results: Among the 928 smokers identified, 474 subjects were in the intervention area (mean age =44.6 years, SD =9.66 years) and 454 in the control area (mean age= 44.5 years, SD =10.30 years). The overall FTND score among current daily smokers was 5.04 (SD: 5.05). FTND scores in the control and intervention areas were 4.75 (SD: 2.57) and 4.92 (SD: 2.51) respectively. The FTND scores increased with age and decreased with higher literacy and socioeconomic status. The average FTND score was high among smokers using both bidi and cigarettes (mean 6.10, SD 2.17). Internal consistency analysis yielded a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.70 in a subsample of 150 subjects, a moderate result. The association of the scale was strongest, with the number of pack-years smoked (rho = 0.677, p < 0.001). Conclusion: A moderate level of nicotine dependence was observed among smokers in the current study. Tobacco cessation strategies could be made more cost effective and productive if a baseline assessment of nicotine dependence is completed before any intervention.