A quasi-experimental pilot study


Although there is a very high comorbidity between tobacco dependence and other addictive disorders, there are only few studies examining the implementation and outcomes of a tobacco cessation program in patients with addictive diseases. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate to what extent a standardized tobacco cessation program leads to improvements regarding psychological/physical parameters in patients with addiction undergoing therapy and whether there is a reduction in tobacco consumption.


The study took place in a therapeutic community specialized in addiction therapy. A total sample of 56 participants were non-randomly assigned to an intervention group (IG; n = 31) and a treatment as usual group (TAUG; n = 25). The IG participated in a 6-week tobacco cessation program, while the TAUG received no additional treatment. Both groups were assessed for changes in primary outcomes (tobacco dependence, smoked cigarettes per day (CPD), and general substance-related craving) and secondary outcomes (heart rate variability (HRV): root mean square of successive differences, self-efficacy, and comorbid psychiatric symptoms) at two measurement time points (pre- and post-treatment/6 weeks).


We observed significant improvements in self-efficacy (F(1,53) = 5.86; p < .05; ηp2 = .11) and decreased CPD in the IG (β = 1.16, ρ < .05), while no significant changes were observed in the TAUG. No significant interaction effects were observed in psychiatric symptoms, general substance-related craving, and HRV.


The results highlight the potential benefit of an additional tobacco cessation program as part of a general addiction treatment. Although no improvements in the physiological domain were observed, there were significant improvements regarding self-efficacy and CPD in the IG compared to the TAUG. Randomized controlled trials on larger samples would be an important next step.

Univ.-Prof. PD mult. Dr.Dr. Human-Friedrich Unterrainer
Head of Doctoral Programme Psychotherapy Science
E-Mail: human.unterrainer@sfu.ac.at

Sigmund Freud University
Faculty of Psychotherapy Science
Freudplatz 1
1020 Vienna