Multi-method assessment of distress tolerance and smoking-related factors among adult daily smokers

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2019 Apr;27(2):136-145. doi: 10.1037/pha0000238. Epub 2018 Dec 27.


Although distress tolerance (DT) is associated with smoking lapse and relapse outcomes, few studies have conducted a rigorous assessment of DT across domain and method in the context of acute abstinence. In a human laboratory-based study of 106 adult daily smokers, we examined between multiple indices of DT and smoking lapse, withdrawal processes, and motivation to quit. We expected that low DT would be associated with shorter latency to smoke, greater withdrawal severity, and lower motivation to quit. Following a smoking abstinence period (≥ 6 hr deprived), participants completed an assessment battery including both behavioral (mirror-tracing, serial addition, cold pressor, and breath-holding tasks) and self-report measures of DT (general and smoking-specific), withdrawal processes (craving, negative affect, and positive affect), and motivation to quit. Latency to smoke (range = 0-50 min) was assessed in a laboratory analogue task in which delaying smoking was monetarily rewarded. Behavioral and self-report DT indices displayed only modest intercorrelations, indicating different facets of this construct by domain and method of assessment. Tolerance of physical pain was uniquely associated with smoking choice. Both self-report DT measures were associated with abstinence-induced increases in negative affect, while only smoking-specific DT was positively associated with craving. Results are discussed within the context of guiding targeted behavioral interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Craving
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smokers
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*