Effect of Attentional Retraining on Cognition, Craving, and Smoking in African American Smokers

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African American cigarette smokers have lower rates of cessation than Whites and live in communities with a higher number of tobacco advertisements. Exposure to smoking cues may promote smoking and undermine cessation. It may be possible to reduce attention to smoking cues (“attentional bias”). In this study, we investigated the effect of attentional retraining (AR) on attentional bias and smoking in African American smokers. Nontreatment- seeking African American smokers (N = 64) were randomly assigned to an AR or control condition. Participants were given a mobile device for 2 weeks and prompted to complete up to 3 AR (or control) trainings per day. Participants completed assessments of attentional bias, craving, and smoking both in the lab and in the field. Participants in the AR and control conditions completed an average of 29.07 AR (SD = 12.48) and 30.61 control training tasks (SD = 13.07), respectively. AR reduced attentional bias assessed in the laboratory, F(1, 126) = 9.20, p = .003, and field, F(1, 374) = 6.18, p = .01. This effect generalized to new stimuli, but not to new tasks. AR did not significantly reduce craving or biological measures of smoking. Smoking assessed on the mobile device declined over days in the AR group, F(1, 26) = 10.95, p = .003, but not in the control group, F(1, 27) = 0.02, p = .89. Two weeks of AR administered on a mobile device reduced attentional bias in African American smokers and had mixed effects on smoking.

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