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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007 Apr;15(2):176-86.

Delay discounting predicts postpartum relapse to cigarette smoking among pregnant women.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA.


Delay discounting (DD), a measure of impulsivity, describes the rate at which rewards lose value as the delay to their receipt increases. Greater discounting has been associated with cigarette smoking and various other types of drug abuse in recent research. The present study examined whether DD predicts treatment outcome among cigarette smokers. More specifically, the authors examined whether baseline discounting for hypothetical monetary rewards predicted smoking status at 24 weeks postpartum among women who discontinued smoking during pregnancy. Participants were 48 pregnant women (10.5 = 4.1 weeks gestational age at study entry) who participated in a clinical trial examining the use of incentives to prevent postpartum relapse. Several sociodemographic characteristics (being younger, being less educated, and reporting a history of depression) assessed at study entry were associated with increased baseline DD, but in multivariate analyses only DD predicted smoking status at 24 weeks postpartum. Greater baseline DD was a significant predictor of smoking status at 24 weeks postpartum. DD was reassessed periodically throughout the study and did not significantly change over time among those who eventually resumed smoking or those who sustained abstinence. The results extend the association of DD with risk for substance abuse to pregnant and recently postpartum cigarette smokers and demonstrate a significant relationship between DD and treatment outcome.

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