Posttraumatic stress symptoms and tobacco abstinence effects in a non-clinical sample: evaluating the mediating role of negative affect reduction smoking expectancies

Kirsten J Langdon, Adam M Leventhal
Journal of Psychopharmacology 2014, 28 (11): 1009-17
The relation between posttraumatic stress symptoms and smoking is well documented but poorly understood. The present investigation sought to evaluate the impact of posttraumatic stress symptoms on subjective and behavioral tobacco abstinence effects both directly and indirectly through negative affect reduction smoking outcome expectancies. Participants included 275 (68.7% male; Mage =43.9, 10+ cig/day) adult non-treatment seeking smokers, who attended two counterbalanced laboratory sessions (16 h of smoking deprivation vs ad libitum smoking), during which they completed self-report measures of withdrawal symptoms and mood followed by a smoking lapse task in which they could earn money for delaying smoking and purchase cigarettes to smoke. Results supported a mediational pathway whereby higher baseline symptoms of posttraumatic stress predicted greater endorsement of expectancies that smoking will effectively reduce negative affect, which in turn predicted greater abstinence-provoked exacerbations in nicotine withdrawal symptoms and negative affect. Posttraumatic stress symptoms also predicted number of cigarettes purchased independent of negative affect reduction expectancies, but did not predict delaying smoking for money. Findings highlight tobacco abstinence effects as a putative mechanism underlying posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-smoking comorbidity, indicate an important mediating role of beliefs for smoking-induced negative affect reduction, and shed light on integrated treatment approaches for these two conditions.

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