During a smoking quit attempt, a single smoking lapse is highly predictive of future relapse. While several risk factors for a smoking lapse have been identified during clinical trials, a laboratory model of lapse was until recently unavailable and, therefore, it is unclear whether these characteristics also convey risk for lapse in a laboratory environment.
The primary study goal was to examine whether real-world risk factors of lapse are also predictive of smoking behavior in a laboratory model of smoking lapse.
After overnight abstinence, 77 smokers completed the McKee smoking lapse task, in which they were presented with the choice of smoking or delaying in exchange for monetary reinforcement. Primary outcome measures were the latency to initiate smoking behavior and the number of cigarettes smoked during the lapse. Several baseline measures of smoking behavior, mood, and individual traits were examined as predictive factors.
Craving to relieve the discomfort of withdrawal, withdrawal severity, and tension level were negatively predictive of latency to smoke. In contrast, average number of cigarettes smoked per day, withdrawal severity, level of nicotine dependence, craving for the positive effects of smoking, and craving to relieve the discomfort of withdrawal were positively predictive of number of cigarettes smoked.
The results suggest that real-world risk factors for smoking lapse are also predictive of smoking behavior in a laboratory model of lapse. Future studies using the McKee lapse task should account for between subject differences in the unique factors that independently predict each outcome measure.