Trauma-related cognitions predict treatment response in smokers with PTSD: Evidence from cross-lagged panel analyses

Wenting Mu, Kevin Narine, Samantha Farris, Shari Lieblich, Yinyin Zang, Keith Bredemeier, Lily Brown, Edna Foa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Compared to smokers without posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD), smokers with PTSD smoke more heavily and are less successful in quitting smoking. However, limited research has examined the cognitive pathways underlying this heightened comorbidity. The current study is the first to simultaneously model the cross-sectional and lagged relationships between trauma-related cognitions and cigarette smoking, as well as between trauma-related cognitions and PTSD severity, in smokers with comorbid PTSD receiving treatment. Method: Participants (n = 142) were seeking treatment for smoking cessation and PTSD as part of a randomized controlled trial of varenicline and smoking cessation counseling with or without adjunctive Prolonged Exposure (varenicline + PE vs. varenicline only) (Foa et al., 2017). Data were available for both baseline and end-of-treatment assessments of trauma cognitions severity of cigarette smoking and PTSD symptoms. We conducted both cross-sectional and lagged analysis to simultaneously examine the bidirectional relationship from trauma cognitions and 1) cigarette smoking and 2) PTSD symptoms. Results: Trauma cognitions (specifically, negative beliefs about the self and the world) were significantly associated with cigarette/day at the end of treatment for participants who received varenicline only. However, baseline trauma cognitions did not predict post-treatment cigarettes/day. Baseline trauma cognitions (specifically negative beliefs about the self and world) were associated with PTSD severity at both baseline and end of treatment; furthermore, these negative cognitions at baseline positively and prospectively predicted end-of-treatment PTSD severity, but not vice versa. Wald tests revealed that there were no treatment effects on these cross-lagged relationships. Conclusions These findings provide novel empirical support for the importance of addressing trauma-related cognitions in the smoking cessation treatment efforts for patients with comorbid PTSD and cigarette smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106376
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cross-lagged panel analysis
  • PTSD
  • Prolonged exposure
  • Trauma cognitions


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