Positive psychotherapy for smoking cessation enhanced with text messaging: Protocol for a randomized controlled trial

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Background: Despite reductions in cigarette smoking in the U.S., improvements in the efficacy of smoking cessation treatments are needed, as rates of sustained abstinence remain disappointingly low. Both low positive affect and high negative affect contribute to smoking relapse and constitute viable targets for smoking cessation interventions. Although some clinical trials have evaluated interventions to address depression as a smoking relapse risk factor, very few have focused on positive affect. Recently, we developed and conducted a preliminary clinical trial of a smoking cessation treatment that targets positive affect and cognitions by incorporating interventions rooted in positive psychology. The current randomized controlled trial will expand upon this preliminary trial to test whether this positive psychology-informed approach results in higher smoking cessation rates compared to a time-matched standard smoking cessation treatment control. Methods: Three hundred and forty adult daily smokers will be randomly assigned to either positive psychotherapy for smoking cessation or standard behavioral smoking cessation counseling. Participants will meet weekly with a study counselor for 6 weeks and will receive transdermal nicotine patch and text messaging smoking cessation support. Additionally, text messaging in the positive psychotherapy condition will encourage engagement in positive psychology-specific strategies for boosting mood and staying smoke free. Smoking cessation outcomes will be measured at 12, 26, and 52 weeks following target quit date. Conclusion: Results from this study will provide evidence on whether incorporating positive psychology interventions into smoking cessation treatment can improve smoking cessation outcomes relative to standard behavioral counseling with nicotine patch and text messaging.

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Contemporary Clinical Trials