Momentary associations between reported craving and valuing health in daily smokers

Robert Ross MacLean, Steve Martino, Kathleen M. Carroll, Joshua M. Smyth, Aaron L. Pincus, Stephen J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Research suggests that a blunted response to nondrug rewards, especially under conditions associated with strong cigarette cravings, is associated with reduced abstinence motivation in daily smokers. One limitation of previous studies is that they have largely focused on monetary rewards as broad representative of nondrug rewards. It remains unclear whether craving dampens responses to more abstract nondrug rewards, such as personal values. Personal values often have a positive valence and are frequently assumed to remain stable across time and situations. However, there may be time-varying and contextual influences on smokers' appraisal of values in daily life. Characterizing fluctuations in value importance in relation to relapse precipitants (eg, craving) may inform interventions that leverage personal values as motivation for cessation. Methods: Daily smokers (n = 18) completed ecological momentary assessment surveys measuring the importance of specific personal values and smoking-related variables during 8 days of monetarily reinforced cigarette abstinence. We hypothesized that value ratings would demonstrate adequate within-person heterogeneity for multilevel modeling and that within-person fluctuations in craving would be negatively related to valuing personal health. Results: All values demonstrated adequate within-person variability for multilevel modeling. Withinperson craving was negatively related to health valuation (p = .012) and a cross-level interaction (p > .0001) suggested this effect is stronger for individuals who report greater overall craving. Conclusions: Greater craving is associated with decreased importance of personal health in the moment, particularly for those with high average levels of craving. Timely interventions that bolster importance of health during moments of elevated craving can potentially improve cessation outcomes. Implications: This study builds on research highlighting the positive influence of personal values in motivating behavior change. Values are an often used, but poorly studied, construct that has considerable utility in smoking cessation. Valuing personal health is frequently reported as a primary motivator for a quit attempt. Inasmuch as personal health is a distal nondrug reward used to motivate smoking abstinence, naturalistic evaluation of health importance, and motivators for continued smoking (ie, craving) could inform the timing and content of smoking treatment. This study is among the first to evaluate momentary assessment of personal values and craving within daily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-722
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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