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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2010 Feb;78(1):55-61. doi: 10.1037/a0017939.

Randomized controlled trial of behavioral activation smoking cessation treatment for smokers with elevated depressive symptoms.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, 2103 Cole Field House, College Park, MD 20742, USA.



Depressive symptoms are associated with poor smoking cessation outcomes, and there remains continued interest in behavioral interventions that simultaneously target smoking and depressive symptomatology. In this pilot study, we examined whether a behavioral activation treatment for smoking (BATS) can enhance cessation outcomes.


A sample of 68 adult smokers with mildly elevated depressive symptoms (M = 43.8 years of age; 48.5% were women; 72.7% were African American) seeking smoking cessation treatment were randomized to receive either BATS paired with standard treatment (ST) smoking cessation strategies including nicotine replacement therapy (n = 35) or ST alone including nicotine replacement therapy (n = 33). BATS and ST were matched for contact time and included 8 sessions of group-based treatment. Quit date was assigned to occur at Session 4 for each treatment condition. Participants completed a baseline assessment; furthermore, measures of smoking cessation outcomes (7-day verified point-prevalence abstinence), depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996), and enjoyment from daily activities (Environmental Reward Observation Scale; Armento & Hopko, 2007) were obtained at 1, 4, 16, and 26 weeks post assigned quit date.


Across the follow-ups over 26 weeks, participants in BATS reported greater smoking abstinence (adjusted odds ratio = 3.59, 95% CI [1.22, 10.53], p = .02) than did those in ST. Participants in BATS also reported a greater reduction in depressive symptoms (B = -1.99, SE = 0.86, p = .02) than did those in ST.


Results suggest BATS is a promising intervention that may promote smoking cessation and improve depressive symptoms among underserved smokers of diverse backgrounds.

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