Investigating Group Contingencies to Promote Brief Abstinence From Cigarette Smoking

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In contingency management (CM), monetary incentives are contingent on evidence of drug abstinence. Typically, incentives (e.g., “vouchers” exchangeable for goods or services) are contingent on individual performance. We programmed vouchers contingent on group performance to investigate whether these contingencies would promote brief abstinence from cigarette smoking. Thirty-two participants were divided into small teams (n = 3 per team). During three 5-day within-subject experimental conditions, participants submitted video recordings of breath carbon monoxide (CO) measures twice daily via Mōtiv8 Systems, an Internet-based remote monitoring application. During the interdependent contingency condition, participants earned vouchers each time they and their teammates submitted breath CO samples indicative of abstinence (i.e., negative samples). During the independent contingency condition, participants earned vouchers each time they submitted negative samples, regardless of their teammates' performance. During the no vouchers condition, no monetary incentives were contingent on abstinence. In addition, half of the participants (n = 16) could communicate with their teammates through an online peer support forum. Although forum access did not appear to promote smoking abstinence, monetary incentives did promote brief abstinence. Significantly more negative samples were submitted when vouchers were contingent on individual performance (56%) or team performance (53%) relative to when no vouchers were available (35%; F = 6.9, p = .002). The results show that interdependent contingencies can promote brief abstinence from cigarette smoking. Moreover, the results suggest that these contingencies may help lower treatment costs and promote social support.

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