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Attentional Retraining Administered to Cigarette Smokers in the Field: Effects on Attentional Bias, Craving, and Smoking

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Attentional retraining AR for cigarette smokers involves training smokers to attend away from smoking cues. According to theory, AR should reduce cue-provoked craving and reduce smoking behavior. Ordinarily AR has been delivered in a laboratory setting. In this study we tested the efficacy of delivering AR on a hand-held computer PDA in the field. Cigarette smokers in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area n60 were randomly assigned to an AR training group or a control no training group. They carried a PDA around for one week and were prompted by the PDA to complete AR AR group or a control task control group three times a day. They also completed an assessment of attentional bias once per day on the PDA in the field. During the week, AR group participants completed an average of 15.0 attentional retrainings and the control group completed an average of 14.9 control trainings. As hypothesized, attentional bias assessed in the field declined over the week in the AR group, but not in the control group. In a novel eye tracking measure of attentional bias administered post-training, the AR group spent less time gazing at smoking stimuli compared to control participants. Participants in the AR group reported decreased craving following a smoking cue in field assessments compared to the control group. There was no effect of AR on smoking behavior. The study demonstrated that AR can be administered on a mobile device in the natural environment, and AR can reduce attentional bias and craving.

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