Cognitive effects of tobacco use among women with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression have not been studied extensively as most studies focussed on men smokers. As part of a study on prevalence and cognitive effects of tobacco use, women with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression were assessed for cognitive functioning using an information questionnaire derived from the Indian Post Graduate Institute Battery of Brain Dysfunction (PGIBBD) and the Trail Making Tests (TMT) A and B. The community dwelling women were clinically diagnosed and recruited from the outpatient department of a free tertiary care teaching hospital in India. The sample consisted of 321 women, 141 with schizophrenia (SZ), 80 with Bipolar Disorder (BD) and 100 with Recurrent Depressive Disorder (RDD). Tobacco users answered statistically significantly fewer questions on the PGIBBD Information Questionnaire. Users also took significantly more time to complete both TMT-A and TMT-B. Age, years of schooling and tobacco use were all significant co-variates for performance on cognitive tests. Tobacco users had lower motor speed and lesser visual scanning, poorer flexibility of thinking and working memory. Women with schizophrenia performed the worst. Tobacco use may exacerbate the cognitive dysfunction associated with major mental illnesses among women.
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