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Addict Behav. 1989;14(4):419-28.

Responses to smoking-related stimuli and early relapse to smoking.

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  • 1Brown University, Miriam Hospital, Providence, RI.


Prior to engaging in treatment for smoking cessation, subjects were tested for their responsiveness to cigarette smoking cues. Subjects performed a role-play with a confederate who lit their preferred brand of cigarette. Heart rate (HR) and galvanic skin conductance were assessed continuously, while urge to smoke and anxiety were rated subjectively after the role-play. Three months after treatment ended, subjects were divided into groups of continuous quitters, verified by expired carbon monoxide measurement, and relapsers. The results showed a significant difference between the groups in the pattern of pretreatment HR response to the lighting of the cigarette; relapsers displayed a sharp HR deceleration in response to the stimulus, while quitters' HR did not decelerate. The theoretical and clinical significance of these results is discussed.

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