Category: Addictive Behaviors

PS1- #A1 - Effects of an Eight-Week Hatha Vinyasa Yoga Intervention on Anxiety Sensitivity and Smoking Abstinence

Friday, Nov 17
8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Mindfulness | Adult Anxiety | Anxiety Sensitivity

Specialized interventions may be required for tobacco smokers with affective vulnerabilities. Research suggests there is merit in targeting low trait-distress tolerance (DT), an identified contributor to smoking maintenance and relapse, through novel behavioral approaches. Emerging work supports a regular yoga practice for reducing affective disorder symptoms and for enhancing CBT for smoking cessation. Accordingly, we conducted a pilot RCT in low DT smokers evaluating hatha yoga’s efficacy for improving DT as a means to boosting abstinence success. We examined yoga’s effect on emotional DT, anxiety sensitivity (AS, a manifestation of DT defined as fear of autonomic arousal), and smoking behavior. We hypothesized that 8-week, twice-weekly yoga would outperform a waitlist control condition for increasing DT and reducing AS. In addition, we examined yoga’s effects on nicotine intake across the intervention and obtained effect sizes to index yoga’s initial efficacy for smoking cessation. Participants included 50 females (Mean Age = 30.08; SD = 8.23) randomized to either Yoga (n = 33) or Waitlist (n = 17) prior to initiating a self-guided quit attempt. Eligible participants reported smoking ≥10 cigarettes/day (past year) and low DT, indexed by elevated anxiety sensitivity (scored ≥20 on the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI); M = 24.16, SD = 10.10). Assessments were completed at baseline, weekly, post-treatment (week 9), and 2-week follow-up (FU). DT measures included self-report Distress Tolerance Scale (DTS) and ASI. Smoking was assessed via biological lung Carbon Monoxide count (COppm) and self-reported (Timeline Followback Calendar (TLFB)) point-prevalence (PP) abstinence. An MLM revealed a significant between-condition effect over time (i.e., Condition x Time interaction) on both ASI (F(9,38) = 2.79, p = .013) and DTS (b = 0.051, t(27) = 2.410, p = 0.023), revealing that the relative improvement in DT was greater for Yoga than Waitlist. Univariate ANOVA revealed Yoga exhibited moderately lower lung CO than WL on quit day (partial η2= 0.10) and slightly lower at follow-up (partial η2= 0.06). MLM evaluated during-intervention changes in cigarette intake. Results suggested that yoga participants tapered cigarette use leading up to quit day (b = 0.917, t(92) = 2.167, p = 0.033). These results establish yoga as efficacious for targeting DT and the related construct of AS. AS reduction may partially explain yoga's influence on smoking behavior high AS smokers. Additional clinical implications will be discussed. 

Johnna L. Medina

Doctoral Candidate
The University of Texas at Austin
Miami, Florida

Lindsey B. Hopkins

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
National Center for PTSD; Center for Innovation to Implementation; VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Menlo Park, California

Maddie Pantoni

University of California San Diego

Natalie Tunnell

Southern Methodist Univesity

Jasper A. J.. Smits

University of Texas at Austin