Direct and indirect associations between social anxiety and nicotine dependence and cessation problems: multiple mediator analyses

Julia D Buckner, Samantha G Farris, Norman B Schmidt, Michael J Zvolensky
Nicotine & Tobacco Research 2014, 16 (6): 807-14

INTRODUCTION: Little empirical work has evaluated why socially anxious smokers are especially vulnerable to more severe nicotine dependence and cessation failure. Presumably, these smokers rely on cigarettes to help them manage their chronically elevated negative affect elicited by a wide array of social contexts.

METHODS: The current study examined the direct and indirect effects of social anxiety cross-sectionally in regard to a range of smoking processes among 466 treatment-seeking smokers. Negative affect and negative affect reduction motives were examined as mediators of the relations of social anxiety with nicotine dependence and cessation problems.

RESULTS: Social anxiety was directly and robustly associated with perceived barriers to smoking cessation and problems experienced during past quit attempts. Social anxiety was also associated with greater nicotine dependence and smoking inflexibility indirectly through negative affect and negative affect smoking motives. Negative affect and smoking to reduce negative affect mediated these relations.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings document the important role of negative affect and negative affect reduction motives in the relationships of social anxiety with nicotine dependence and cessation problems.

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