Research has documented consistent and robust relations between emotional disorders (i.e., depressive and anxiety disorders) and smoking. Yet, it is presently unclear whether anxiety sensitivity, the fear of aversive internal anxiety states, may account for the relations between emotional disorders and various smoking processes, including nicotine dependence, perceived barriers to smoking cessation, and severity of problematic symptoms while quitting during past cessation attempts. Participants (n = 465) were treatment-seeking daily tobacco smokers recruited as part of a larger tobacco cessation study. Baseline (pre-treatment) data were utilized. Emotional disorders were assessed via clinical diagnostic interview; self-report measures were used to assess anxiety sensitivity and three criterion variables: nicotine dependence, barriers to smoking cessation, and severity of problematic symptoms while quitting in past attempts.
Emotional disorders were predictive of higher levels of nicotine dependence, greater perceived barriers to cessation, and greater severity of problematic symptoms while quitting in past attempts; each of these relations were accounted for by the indirect effect of anxiety sensitivity. The present findings suggest that anxiety sensitivity may be an important transdiagnostic construct in explicating the nature of the relations between emotional disorders and various smoking processes.