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Self-hypnosis for smoking cessation

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Timothy Carmody, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2001 (Cycle 10) Grant #: 10RT-0061 Award: $413,119
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Cigarette smoking is the major preventable cause of death in the United States. It has been estimated that more than 420,000 deaths occur each year in this country as a result of tobacco use. The prevalence of smoking in the U.S., which had been decreasing, has now reached a plateau. Although millions of Americans have quit smoking, approximately one in four continue to smoke. The prevalence of smoking is considerably higher among veterans than in California’s population at large. The efficacy of the nicotine patch has been investigated when combined with psychosocial interventions of varying levels of intensity. Yet, a majority of smokers who quit with the help of pharmacological or psychosocial interventions relapse within one year. There is a clear need to identify and investigate more effective methods of treating nicotine addiction. No previous treatment outcome study has examined the efficacy of self-hypnosis combined with nicotine patches.

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of self-hypnosis combined with nicotine patches in facilitating smoking cessation and relapse prevention. To accomplish this objective, we will enroll 360 current smokers into the study. Two treatment groups will be compared. Both groups will receive nicotine patches. In one group, self-hypnosis will be combined with nicotine patches. In the other group, standard treatment will be used, combining brief smoking cessation counseling with nicotine patches. Smoking status will be assessed at 6 and 12 months.

Hypnosis represents a powerful behavior-change strategy designed to accelerate the process of lifestyle change for smoking cessation and relapse prevention. One of the primary aims of smoking cessation counseling is to teach smokers how to talk to themselves in ways that will promote smoking cessation and relapse prevention. The use of hypnosis provides a way for the clinician to extend the process of teaching patients how to talk to themselves far beyond the constraints of the clinic setting. Hypnotic messages can be prepared that maintain a high level of interest and modified periodically to make sure that they are individually tailored to the most relevant issues. Hypnotic suggestions can be used that prompt planning for high-risk situations, provide coping statements and ideas, reassure the patient, and remind the ex-smoker of the reasons for staying abstinent.