Contingency management and motivational enhancement: A randomized clinical trial for college student smokers

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The efficacy of contingency-management (CM) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) for college student smoking cessation was examined.


Nontreatment-seeking daily smokers (N=110) were randomly assigned to 3 weeks of CM versus noncontingent reinforcement (NR) and to three individual sessions of MET versus a relaxation control in a 2 × 2 experimental design. Expired carbon monoxide (CO) samples were collected twice daily for 3 weeks. Participants earned U.S.$5 for providing each sample; additionally, those randomized to CM earned escalating monetary rewards based on CO reductions (Week 1) and smoking abstinence (Weeks 2–3).


Compared with NR, CM resulted in significantly lower CO levels and greater total and consecutive abstinence during the intervention. Those in the CM and MET groups reported greater interest in quitting smoking posttreatment, but rates of confirmed abstinence at follow-up were very low (4% at 6-month follow-up) and did not differ by group.


Findings support the short-term efficacy of CM for reducing smoking among college students. Future research should explore enhancements to CM in this population, including a longer intervention period and the recruitment of smokers who are motivated to quit.

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