Evaluation of the mood and physical symptoms scale (MPSS) to assess cigarette withdrawal

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Dec;177(1-2):195-9. doi: 10.1007/s00213-004-1923-6. Epub 2004 Jun 4.


Rationale: The mood and physical symptoms scale (MPSS) was developed in the early 1980s to assess cigarette withdrawal symptoms, and variants of it have been used for 20 years. To date, no paper has been published on the properties of the scale.

Objectives: To evaluate psychometric properties of MPSS and the interrelationship between the key tobacco withdrawal symptoms.

Methods: The core elements of the MPSS involve 5-point ratings of depressed mood, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating and hunger and 6-point ratings of strength of urges to smoke and time spent with these urges. The data set chosen for analysis was well suited to the task in that it involved a relatively large sample, abstinence was defined as "not a puff" for 24 h biochemically verified, participants were not using any medication that would have reduced withdrawal discomfort (e.show $132#g. nicotine patch), the abstinence rate was very high resulting in minimal bias due to attrition, and ratings were provided on three occasions prior to abstinence. The study involved 111 smokers setting a target quit date of whom 106 attempted abstinence and 96 achieved it.

Results: The MPSS items were stable prior to abstinence and sensitive to abstinence. Post-abstinence increases in mood and physical symptoms demonstrated a high level of internal coherence. Ratings of urges to smoke correlated highly with changes in mood and other symptoms. Ratings of hunger correlated less well with the scale as a whole and may involve some distinct processes.

Conclusions: The MPSS meets the key requirements of a cigarette withdrawal scale. Although urge to smoke/craving was not included in the list of DSM-IV withdrawal symptoms, it should be regarded as forming part of the withdrawal syndrome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / epidemiology
  • Psychomotor Agitation / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology


  • Nicotine