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Psychol Addict Behav. 2010 Dec;24(4):724-9. doi: 10.1037/a0020972.

Lower task persistence in smokers with schizophrenia as compared to non-psychiatric control smokers.

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Department of Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


One contributing factor to difficulty in quitting smoking may be task persistence, which can be viewed as a behavioral manifestation of distress tolerance, and describes the act of persisting in a difficult or effortful task. Task persistence was assessed in smokers with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder (SZ/SA; N = 71) and non-psychiatric controls (N = 78) before a quit attempt. These data support the hypothesis that smokers with SZ/SA display less task persistence than do non-psychiatric controls when persistence is measured via mirror tracing and a 2-item persistence measure. Lower persistence may partially explain the reduced smoking cessation successes of smokers with SZ/SA as compared to the general population. These data also replicate findings regarding relationships between histories of ability to quit smoking and task persistence and expand them to a new population of smokers. The absence of a diagnostic status by length of previous abstinence interaction suggests that the contribution of task persistence to smoking cessation is similar for smokers with and without schizophrenia. Future studies should evaluate the ability of task persistence to predict abstinence from cigarettes prospectively among smokers with schizophrenia.

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