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Genetics and Impulsivity in Smoking Initiation

Institution: Veterans Medical Research Foundation
Investigator(s): Neal Doran, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2008 (Cycle 17) Grant #: 17KT-0027 Award: $282,860
Subject Area: Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: New Investigator Awards

Initial Award Abstract
The college years represent a transition to adulthood, and during this transition health risk behaviors are still being formed. Although smoking initiation peaks during adolescence, one recent study found that 51% of a college sample had never smoked on entering college, and 22% of these never smokers had initiated smoking within 2 years of matriculation. In our own data we have found that 69% of college freshman can be classified as never-smokers; 25% of these initiated smoking during college, 11% during the first 12-15 months. This suggests that the initiation of smoking remains a substantial and important issue during the college years.

The long-term goals of the proposed line of research are: (1) to develop a greater understanding of smoking acquisition in college students by testing biological and behavioral factors that increase or decrease risk for initiation; (2) to inform the design of prevention and cessation programs for college students and other youth; and (3) to test and develop a theoretical model explaining the reasons and mechanisms by which smoking begins.

Impulsivity is known to be higher in smokers, and it is often thought that more impulsive youth are more likely to start smoking. However, very little research has directly addressed this possibility, and no published research has explored mechanisms that may explain the relationship between impulsivity and smoking. The present study would address this gap by testing whether non-smoking college students who are more impulsive are more likely to start smoking after beginning college, and whether higher impulsivity is associated with a greater likelihood of progressing toward more established smoking. We also propose to test three mechanisms that may explain such a relationship: 2 genetic factors that are known to be associated with both impulsivity and cigarette smoking, as well as expectations about the effects of smoking. Because an important goal of this study is to inform prevention and cessation programs for college students and other youth, this proposal is relevant to the TRDRP primary research area addressing Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use and Tobacco-Related Health Disparities in California’s Diverse Populations. This study is also relevant to the research priority of enhancing the effectiveness of cessation programs for priority populations, including young adults.

The main goals of the study are to: (1) specify the nature of the relationship between impulsivity and the acquisition and progression of cigarette smoking; (2) test several biobehavioral mechanisms that may explain this relationship; and (3) assess which aspects of impulsivity are most relevant to smoking initiation and progression.

The proposed study will recruit 420 freshmen, ages 18-19, who have never smoked. Participants will be interviewed during the first quarter of the freshman year, at which time they will complete 4 impulsivity assessments and provide a DNA sample. During the subsequent 15 months participants will complete an online assessment every 3 months to assess whether they have started smoking and, if so, the quantity and frequency of smoking.

Do expectancies for reinforcement from smoking change agter smoking initiation?
Periodical: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Index Medicus:
Authors: Doran, N; Schweizer, CA; Myers, MG ART
Yr: 2011 Vol: 25 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 101-107

Trait-impulsivity moderates the relationship between rumination and number of major depressive episodes among cigarette smokers.
Periodical: Mental Health and Substance Use Index Medicus:
Authors: McChargue, DE; Drevo, S; Herrera, MJ; Doran, N; Salvi, S; & Klanecky, AK ART
Yr: 2011 Vol: 4 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 96-104

A prospective study of the Acquired Preparedness Model: The effects of impulsivity and expectancies on smoking initiation in college students.
Periodical: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Index Medicus:
Authors: Doran, N., Khoddam, R., Sanders, P. E., Schweizer, C. A., & Myers, M. G. ART
Yr: Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg:

Adolescent substance use and aggression: A review.
Periodical: Criminal Justice and Behavior Index Medicus:
Authors: Doran, N., Luczak, S., Bekman, N., Koutsenok, 1., & Brown, S. A. ART
Yr: 2012 Vol: 39 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 748-769