A qualitative study of the feasibility and acceptability of a smoking cessation program for people living with HIV and emotional dysregulation

A. K. Labbe, J. G. Wilner, J. N. Coleman, S. M. Marquez, J. D. Kosiba, M. J. Zvolensky, J. A.J. Smits, P. J. Norton, D. Rosenfield, C. O'Cleirigh

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Despite high rates of co-occurring tobacco use and anxiety among persons living with HIV, evidence-based interventions for these individuals are limited. An existing cognitive–behavioral treatment protocol for smoking cessation and anxiety (Norton, P. J., & Barrera, T. L. (2012). Transdiagnostic versus diagnosis-specific CBT for anxiety disorders: A preliminary randomized controlled noninferiority trial. Depression and Anxiety, 29(10), 874–882. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.21974) was modified to address transdiagnostic constructs, such as anxiety sensitivity, distress tolerance, and depressive symptomatology (Labbe, A. K., Wilner, J. G., Kosiba, J. D., Gonzalez, A., Smits, J. A., Zvolensky, M. J., … O’Cleirigh, C. (2017). Demonstration of an Integrated Treatment for Smoking Cessation and Anxiety Symptoms in People with HIV: A Clinical Case Study. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 24(2), 200–214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2016.03.009). This study examines the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention as determined from qualitative data from structured exit interviews from 10 participants who completed treatment. Results demonstrated that participants were very motivated to quit smoking and enrolled in the program for health-related reasons and to be able to quit. Participants found nearly all the treatment components to be useful for reaching their smoking cessation goal and in managing emotional dysregulation. Last, all participants stated that they would strongly recommend the treatment program. This qualitative study provides initial evidence for the feasibility and acceptability of a modified smoking cessation treatment protocol for HIV+ individuals with anxiety and emotional dysregulation. Future research will focus on evaluating the efficacy of the protocol in a full-scale randomized controlled trial, as well as working to collect qualitative data from participants who discontinue treatment to better understand reasons for treatment attrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-615
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • cognitive–behavioral therapy
  • emotional dysregulation
  • HIV
  • smoking cessation

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