Do cravings predict smoking cessation? An investigation into the utility of the “urges to smoke” measures
Dr Jaspal S Taggar, Professor Sarah Lewis and Professor Tim Coleman
Dr Jaspal Taggar NIHR / NSPCR General Practice Academic Clinical Fellow, Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham
The strength of smokers’ nicotine addiction affects their ability to successfully quit. Recent studies found cravings (frequency of urges (FUTS) and strength of urges to smoke (SUTS)) to be inversely and more strongly associated with successful smoking cessation than a conventional measure of nicotine addiction, the Heaviness of Smoking Index (HSI). Using previously collected randomised trial data, this study investigated the independent associations between cravings to smoke and stopping smoking using logistic regression, and compared their ability to predict cessation with that of the HSI using Receiver Operator Characteristic analysis. Adjusted odds ratios found FUTS and HSI to be inversely associated with smoking abstinence at one and six months after a quitting.
At six months participants were 16% (OR 0.84, 95% C.I 0.78-0.89, p<0.0001) and 11% (OR 0.89, 95% C.I 0.81-0.97, p=0.0081)] less likely to have stopped smoking per point increase in HSI and FUTS score, respectively. ROC analysis suggested a non-significantly greater predictive validity for HSI than FUTS at one and six months. As FUTS are quantified with one simple question, there is potential for this to be useful for clinicians. However, further studies are required to investigate the utility of the FUTS measure in routine clinical settings.
Dr Jaspal Taggar is a GP Speciality Training Registrar as part of the Nottingham GP Speciality Training Programme. He received an award from the NIHR as part of an Academic Clinical Fellowship, and is currently undertaking a masters degree in Applied Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, whilst conducting research into tobacco control.
Source of funding: This study has been supported with an academic award from the National Institute for Health Research