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Mindfulness for Smoking Cessation

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Research

Title

Mindfulness for Smoking Cessation

This project is testing the use and effectiveness of a mobile device application called “Craving to Quit” as a means for making mindfulness-based smoking cessation therapy available in local hospital and community clinics. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the world. Although 70% of smokers claim that they wish to quit, fewer than 5% achieve this goal annually. Additional effective, safe, and accessible treatments for nicotine dependence are needed due to the low abstinence rates (20-30%) achieved in behavioral therapies, the unappealing side effects of pharmacotherapy, and the frequent lack of accessibility to treatment. Recent evidence points to the central role of craving in maintaining nicotine dependence. Neither behavioral nor replacement therapies directly target this relationship. Mindfulness therapy has been found to be effective in teaching strategies to disassociate craving and the act of smoking, and there is preliminary support for mindfulness-based therapy (MT) as an effective means for reducing consumption in smokers. MT teaches individuals to observe aversive body and mind states instead of reacting to them with habitual behavior. Dr. Judson Brewer at Yale University recently translated this program into a mobile device application for smoking cessation. In consultation with Dr. Brewer, the U.Va. researchers are assessing the feasibility of implementation of a MT mobile application in local clinics. Furthermore, they are examining the effectiveness of the MT mobile application as compared with acupuncture treatment for smoking cessation. Analysis of the results will take into account both smoking cessation and the enduring role of cravings at the end of the 8 week study period and during 2 and 6 month follow-up sessions. If mindfulness based smoking cessation therapy is determined to be effective in a mobile device application, this will be a significant step in providing an additional effective and safe treatment for smokers wishing to quit or cut down on their intake. This will be particularly important in providing treatment options for marginalized or hard-to-access individuals wishing to reduce cigarette use.

Key People: From the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia: J. Kim Penberthy (PI), Associate Professor; Andrea Konig, Post-Doctoral Fellow; Chris Gioia, Psychology Fellow; Maggie Valladares, Fellow? (insufficient information provided on Valladares). Barrie Carveth, Charlottesville Free Clinic; Norm Oliver, Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, University of Virginia; Naomi Worth, Master’s student in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia. Judson Brewer, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University (Consultant).