Baseline Reaction Time Predicts 12-Month Smoking Cessation Outcome in Formerly Depressed Smokers

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Burgeoning evidence points to a positive association between cigarette smoking and depression. Moreover, depressive symptomatology, whether historical, current, or subsyndromal, appears to negatively influence smoking cessation efforts. Whereas depression is typically assessed via clinical interview or self-report, rarely are the known neurocognitive deficits linked to depression (e.g., global slowing) assessed in the context of smoking cessation research. Hence, this study examined whether simple reaction time—color naming of affectively neutral words—is predictive of 12-month smoking cessation outcome among a sample of formerly depressed smokers (N = 28). Results revealed a significant, positive correlation between reaction time and depressive symptoms such that those who exhibited slower reaction times were at heightened risk to relapse. Baseline depressive symptoms, as assessed via self-report, neither correlated with nor predicted smoking cessation outcome. Results from logistic regression analyses further showed that reaction time added incremental variance to the prediction of smoking cessation outcome. Therefore, simple reaction time may capture aspects of depression not typically assessed in self-report questionnaires. These results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and clinical implications for smoking cessation research.

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