An evaluation of the role of smoking context on a biobehavioral index of distress tolerance

A. Bernstein, J. Trafton, M. Ilgen, M. J. Zvolensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study evaluated the effect of smoking deprivation on a biobehavioral index of distress tolerance, breath-holding duration, among 43 adult smokers in a repeated measures test (Session 1 = smoking-as-usual, Session 2 = 12-h smoking deprivation). We theorized that distress tolerance is a context-dependent individual difference variable whose expression varies prospectively, within-individuals, as a function of smoking context. As predicted, participants' breath-holding duration was significantly shorter during an experimental session that immediately followed a 12-h smoking deprivation period than during a smoking-as-usual session. Furthermore, we theorized that among individuals with a pre-existing diathesis (i.e., psychiatric symptoms), smoking deprivation may activate a vulnerability process that decreases capacity to tolerate distress; in the absence of this stressor, these psychiatrically vulnerable smokers may express variable levels of distress tolerance. As predicted, we observed that level of psychiatric symptoms was significantly negatively correlated with breath-holding duration during the smoking deprivation, but not the smoking-as-usual session. These data advance our understanding of smoking and distress tolerance and the context-dependent phenomenology of distress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1415
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Bernstein acknowledges that this work was supported in part by the VA Office of Academic Affairs and Health Services Research and Development Service Research funds. Drs. Trafton and Ilgen acknowledge that this project was supported by the VA Program Evaluation and Resource Center. Dr. Zvolensky acknowledges grants from the National Institutes of Health (1 R01 MH076629-01, 1 R01 DA018734-01A1, and R03 DA16307-01).


  • Distress tolerance
  • Smoking
  • Smoking deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'An evaluation of the role of smoking context on a biobehavioral index of distress tolerance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this