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A mindfulness-based approach to relapse prevention

Institution: California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
Investigator(s): Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2005 (Cycle 14) Grant #: 14IT-0178 Award: $133,530
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Inno Dev & Exp Awards (IDEAS)

Initial Award Abstract
Nicotine dependence is a prevalent health problem for which current treatments are only partially successful. A substantial proportion of treated individuals relapse within one year of treatment. Psychosocial stress and negative affect, and impairments in the capacity to regulate negative affect, appear to be strongly involved in relapse after smoking cessation. Novel behavioral treatments are needed that provide former smokers with improved strategies to manage negative affect. Mindfulness, a set of skills derived from contemplative traditions such as Buddhism, involves the cultivation of moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness of one’s present moment experience. Mindfulness practice has been successfully translated into secularized and standardized interventions that have shown strong promise for reduction of negative affect and relapse in other populations. In this pilot project, we will develop and pilot test a behavioral intervention specifically directed toward preventing relapse by enhancing recovering smokers’ capacity to regulate and tolerate negative affect through the use of mindfulness-based strategies. The goals of this project are 1) to develop a mindfulness-based intervention directed toward improving regulation of negative affect and preventing relapse in individuals who have recently received smoking cessation treatment and successfully quit smoking, 2) to pilot test the intervention and measurement protocol to determine feasibility, and refine the intervention based on the response to it, 3) to assess in a preliminary fashion the impact of the refined intervention on affect regulation, relapse prevention, and psychological well-being, and 4) to develop a treatment manual for use in future randomized controlled trials.