Chloe Burke

Chloe Burke is a final-year PhD student at the University of Bath, based in the Addiction and Mental Health Group and funded by the SSA. Chloe obtained her MRes at Bath in 2020, examining the feasibility of warning labels to communicate the risks of smoking for mental health. Prior to this, she worked as a low-intensity mental health practitioner in NHS primary-care. Her work aims to better understand the causal role of substance use in mental illness, through triangulating evidence across statistical (e.g. multivariable regression) and design-based (e.g. Mendelian randomization) approaches to causal inference.

Prospective associations of smoking and new-onset mental health conditions

Considerable debate has surrounded the association between smoking and mental ill-health, with several proposed explanations: (i) causal effect of smoking; (ii) ‘self-medication’ model; (iii) common risk factors. These accounts are not mutually exclusive, and each confer distinct key implications for policy and practice. This talk will introduce background literature on the link between smoking and mental health, before presenting evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis of the observational association between tobacco use and risk of new-onset mental health conditions, including anxiety, mood and psychotic disorders. We will discuss the extent to which these associations may reflect causal estimates, over and above alternative explanations (i.e. reverse causation, confounding bias). Finally, simulations estimating the population-level impact of preventing smoking initiation for mental health prevalence in England, produced in collaboration with the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and University of College London (UCL), will be presented.