Delayed reward discounting predicts treatment response for heavy drinkers receiving smoking cessation treatment
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Delayed reward discounting (DRD) is a behavioral economic index of impulsivity that reflects the extent to which an individual devalues a reward based on its delay in time (i.e., preference for smaller immediate rewards relative to larger delayed rewards). Current smokers exhibit greater DRD compared to non-smokers, but also exhibit greater DRD compared to ex-smokers, suggesting that either DRD is inversely associated with successful smoking cessation or that smoking cessation itself reduces DRD. In a sample of treatment-seeking smokers (n=57, 61% male, 85% Caucasian) participating in a randomized controlled smoking cessation trial, the current study prospectively examined DRD for money in general and at three magnitudes in relation to time to the participants' first lapse to smoking. Survival analysis using Cox proportional-hazards regression revealed that DRD predicted days to first lapse (ps<.05-.01) and did so beyond nicotine dependence, sensation-seeking, and income in covariate analyses, with the exception of small magnitude discounting. In addition, dichotomous comparisons revealed significantly more impulsive baseline discounting for individuals who had lapsed by the two-week and eight-week follow-up visits. These findings indicate that high levels of DRD reflect a risk factor for poor smoking cessation treatment response. Interrelationships among the variables assessed and clinical strategies to improve outcomes for smokers who are high in DRD are discussed.
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