Increasing Cessation Motivation and Treatment Engagement Among Smokers in Pain: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Emily L. Zale, W. Michael Hooten, Stephen A. Maisto, Martin J. De Vita, Joseph W. Ditre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Tobacco smokers with co-occurring pain report greater difficulty quitting, face unique cessation challenges, and may benefit from targeted smoking interventions. We developed and tested a brief motivational intervention aimed at increasing knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations, motivation to quit, and cessation treatment engagement among smokers in pain. Nontreatment seeking daily cigarette smokers with chronic pain (N = 76, 57.9% women, 52.6% White) were randomized to the targeted or ask, advise, refer (AAR) intervention. The targeted intervention included personalized feedback and pain-smoking psychoeducation to help participants develop discrepancy between continued smoking and desired pain outcomes. At postintervention, the targeted intervention (vs. AAR) increased knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations and several indices of motivation to quit smoking (ps =.01). Participants who received the targeted intervention were also more likely to accept information about and report intention to engage evidence-based cessation treatments (ps =.05). Increased knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations mediated postintervention effects on motivation to quit and willingness to learn about treatments. At 1-month follow up, gains in knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations were maintained (p =.009). Participants who received the targeted intervention were more likely to report having subsequently engaged cessation treatment (p =.019), but this was not mediated by increased knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations. Smokers with chronic pain may benefit from targeted interventions that address smoking in the context of pain. Smokers in pain may become increasingly motivated to quit and engage cessation treatment as they become aware of how smoking may exacerbate their pain

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-604
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • Motivation
  • Pain
  • Smoking
  • Targeted intervention
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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