Anxiety Sensitivity and Smoking Variability Among Treatment Seeking Smokers

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Abstract

Objectives:

Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is associated with poor smoking cessation outcomes. One reason may be that smokers with high AS smoke differently (ie, to manage negative affect and uncomfortable bodily sensations) than other smokers, leading to stronger addiction (due to an affect/sensation based and thereby highly variable rather than a regular smoking routine). Thus, we examined the relationship between AS and smoking variability in a group of treatment-seeking smokers.

Methods:

Participants (N=136; 52.2% female; Mage=44.19 y, SD=11.29) were daily smokers with elevated AS (AS≥20 on the Anxiety Sensitivity Index 16-item at prescreen) recruited as part of a larger randomized controlled trial for smoking cessation. Most participants were white (73%), educated (with 76% attending some college), unmarried (73%), and employed full-time (56%). They smoked, on average, 17 cigarettes per day.

Results:

Consistent with prediction, a regression analysis of baseline assessments and a longitudinal analysis with multilevel modeling both showed higher AS was associated with greater variability in cigarettes smoked per day while controlling for sex, age, ethnicity, and income.

Conclusions:

This finding encourages investigation of how AS might interact with clinical strategies using a fixed smoking taper as part of quit attempts.

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