Toward a Laboratory Model for Psychotherapeutic Treatment Screening: Implementation Intentions and Incentives for Abstinence in an Analog of Smoking Relapse

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Despite reductions in cigarette smoking in the United States, approximately 40 million Americans are smokers. Innovative interventions are needed to help remaining smokers quit. To develop innovative interventions, precise and effective tools are needed. Here, a laboratory model of smoking relapse is assessed for its ability to detect increased resistance to smoking across 2 interventions and for its sensitivity to differing degrees of effectiveness. Nicotine-deprived participants (N = 36) completed, in randomized order, 4 smoking resistance sessions with and without implementation intentions and monetary incentives. A Cox proportional hazard mixed-effects model indicated significant differences between condition, χ2(3) = 64.87, p < .001, and the Questionnaire on Smoking Urges, χ2(1) = 4.86, p = .03. Comparisons between conditions were used to estimate the effect size of each condition on delay to smoking reinitiation. The implementation intentions intervention had a small effect (d = 0.32), the monetary incentives had a large effect (d = 0.89) and the combination of both interventions had a large effect size (d = 1.20). This initial investigation of the smoking resistance paradigm showed sensitivity to smoking reinitiation across intervention conditions. Individuals resisted smoking significantly more in the presence of monetary incentives and implementation intentions than without these interventions. These results provide support for further examination of these interventions in more translational settings and the use of this laboratory analog to screen future interventions and treatment packages.

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