Is the ten-item Questionnaire of Smoking Urges (QSU-brief) more sensitive to abstinence than shorter craving measures?
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The Questionnaire on Smoking Urges is now very widely used as a measure of craving but is considerably longer than alternatives in current use. Longer scales carry a significant cost in studies and clinical practice. This study compared the ten-item Questionnaire on Smoking Urges (QSU-brief) with six shorter measures of craving in terms of sensitivity to abstinence and reliability.
Sixty smokers were randomly assigned to continue smoking (N = 30) or abstain completely for 24 h (n = 30), by which time the craving would be expected to have increased. Craving was measured at baseline and after 24 h. The craving measures tested were the QSU-brief, the Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale (MNWS), the Mood and Physical Symptoms Scale (MPSS), the Shiffman Scale (SS), the Wisconsin Smoking Withdrawal Scale and the Cigarette Withdrawal Scale and a simple rating of ‘craving’ (CR).
All measures showed significant increases in scores following smoking abstinence. The two-item MPSS measure was similar to the QSU-brief (eta-squared 0.41 versus 0.45, respectively), and the CR was only slightly lower (eta-squared 0.37). The MNWS showed the least sensitivity (eta-squared 0.22). Stability while still smoking was good with the exception of the SS which showed a significant reduction on retest.
The ten-item QSU-brief is not more sensitive to abstinence or reliable than the two-item MPSS or a single rating of craving.
KeywordsSmoking Craving Measurement Withdrawal Addiction
We are grateful to cancer Research UK for part funding of this study. We also wish to thank Mari Evans and Mamun Rashid for help with data collection.