Initiating a quit attempt and achieving abstinence are distinct behaviors that have distinct correlates in general smokers. Studies predicting prenatal smoking have not addressed this.
Pregnant smokers (N = 207), recruited to a cessation intervention trial, were used as an observational cohort. Women completed measures at baseline and 12-week follow-up (mid-late pregnancy). Outcomes were having made at least one quit attempt since baseline, and cotinine-validated 7-day abstinence at follow-up in attempters. Baseline predictors included demographics (age, deprivation, partner's smoking), smoking behaviors (nicotine dependence, quit attempt history, previous prenatal smoking), and smoking beliefs (self-efficacy, determination, intention to quit, nonsmoker identity, social support, pregnancy-outcome beliefs). For each outcome, variables reaching p < .1 in logistic regression analyses were entered into a multivariate model controlling for trial arm. A complete case analysis was undertaken, with missing data assumptions tested in sensitivity analyses.
One hundred seventy-five women (85%) completed follow-up. Intention and determination to quit (p < .001), self-efficacy, nonsmoker identity, and not having previously smoked in pregnancy (p < .05) were univariate predictors of making a quit attempt, with stronger intention to quit the only independent predictor (multivariate odds ratio [OR] = 2.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.19-4.87). Only nicotine dependence predicted validated abstinence among those who made a quit attempt (multivariate OR = 0.25, 95% CI 0.10-0.60).
Initiating a quit attempt and achieving abstinence during pregnancy were found to have different correlates. For women yet to make a quit attempt in their pregnancy, smoking beliefs may be important intervention targets, but once they are engaged in quitting, nicotine dependence appears of prime importance.
This study suggests that cognitive, particularly motivational, variables predict whether pregnant smokers will make a quit attempt, but they do not predict successful abstinence in those who attempt to quit, where nicotine dependence dominates. Interventions should facilitate quit attempts by targeting motivational variables among pregnant women who continue to smoke, but should focus on managing withdrawal once a woman initiates a quit attempt.