State and trait symptoms of social anxiety and smoking to cope as risk-factors for smoking maintenance and relapse
Watson, Noreen L.
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Previous research indicates that symptoms of social anxiety, at clinical and sub-threshold levels, are risk factors for the onset, maintenance, and relapse of smoking behaviors. However, the mechanisms by which these relationships occur are largely unknown. Therefore, the present study sought to gain a better understanding of these relationships by examining symptoms of social anxiety and smoking to cope as risk-factors for the maintenance of smoking behaviors. Under conditions of abstinence, this study examined the effects of state and trait levels of social anxiety and smoking to cope (STC) on cigarette craving in response to a social stressor. Subsequent smoking behaviors were assessed as well. Participants (N = 49) were daily smokers (i.e., smoke ≥ 5 cigarettes per day and have an expired air carbon monoxide reading of ≥ 7 parts per million) between the ages of 18 and 30. Data were analyzed via multilevel modeling or multiple linear regression where appropriate. Consistent with hypotheses, trait levels of social anxiety, smoking to cope, and state social anxiety significantly predicted cigarette craving in response to the social stressor task. Contrary to expectations, however, none of the hypothesized variables (state and trait social anxiety, smoking to cope, cigarette craving) predicted smoking latency. Overall, these findings suggest that individuals with higher levels of social anxiety and STC may be at risk for continued smoking and relapse because of the intensity of cigarette cravings they experience during social situations. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are also discussed.