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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Feb;208(3):427-32. doi: 10.1007/s00213-009-1742-x. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Is the ten-item Questionnaire of Smoking Urges (QSU-brief) more sensitive to abstinence than shorter craving measures?

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Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E6BT, UK.



The Questionnaire on Smoking Urges is now very widely used as a measure of craving but is considerably longer than alternatives in current use. Longer scales carry a significant cost in studies and clinical practice. This study compared the ten-item Questionnaire on Smoking Urges (QSU-brief) with six shorter measures of craving in terms of sensitivity to abstinence and reliability.


Sixty smokers were randomly assigned to continue smoking (N = 30) or abstain completely for 24 h (n = 30), by which time the craving would be expected to have increased. Craving was measured at baseline and after 24 h. The craving measures tested were the QSU-brief, the Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale (MNWS), the Mood and Physical Symptoms Scale (MPSS), the Shiffman Scale (SS), the Wisconsin Smoking Withdrawal Scale and the Cigarette Withdrawal Scale and a simple rating of 'craving' (CR).


All measures showed significant increases in scores following smoking abstinence. The two-item MPSS measure was similar to the QSU-brief (eta-squared 0.41 versus 0.45, respectively), and the CR was only slightly lower (eta-squared 0.37). The MNWS showed the least sensitivity (eta-squared 0.22). Stability while still smoking was good with the exception of the SS which showed a significant reduction on retest.


The ten-item QSU-brief is not more sensitive to abstinence or reliable than the two-item MPSS or a single rating of craving.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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