Is attributing smoking to genetic causes associated with a reduced probability of quit attempt success? A cohort study

AJ Wright, Paul Aveyard, Boliang Guo, K Brown, TM Marteau

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    AIMS: Pharmacogenetic smoking cessation interventions would involve smokers being given information about the influence of genes on their behaviour. However, attributing smoking to genetic causes may reduce perceived control over smoking, reducing quit attempt success. This study examines whether attributing smoking to genetic influences is associated with reduced quitting and whether this effect is mediated by perceived control over smoking. DESIGN: Cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 792 smokers, participating in a trial of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)-assisted smoking cessation. Participants were informed that the trial investigated relationships between genetic markers and smoking behaviour, but personalized genetic feedback was not provided. SETTING: Primary care in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, UK. MEASUREMENTS: Perceived control over smoking and perceived importance of genetic factors in causing smoking assessed pre-quit; abstinence 4, 12, 26 and 52 weeks after the start of treatment. FINDINGS: A total of 515 smokers (65.0%) viewed genetic factors as playing some role in causing their smoking. They had lower perceived control over smoking than smokers who viewed genetic factors as having no role in causing their smoking. Attributing smoking to genetic causes was not associated significantly with a lower probability of quit attempt success. CONCLUSIONS: Attributing smoking to genetic factors was associated with lower levels of perceived control over smoking but not lower quit rates. This suggests that learning of one's genetic predisposition to smoking during a pharmacogenetically tailored smoking cessation intervention may not deter quitting. Further research should examine whether the lack of impact of genetic attributions on quit attempt success is also found in smokers provided with personalized genetic feedback.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1657-1664
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007


    • causal attributions
    • perceived control
    • smoking cessation
    • pharmacogenetic intervention
    • behavioural influences
    • genetic testing


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