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The Behavioral Science Research Project (BSRP) targets specific stressors and anxieties in African American tobacco users to help them cope and end unhealthy habits. Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death and disability and results in an economic disadvantage for smokers. Estimates show that 13.7% of adults in the United States are current smokers; yet, smoking is not distributed equally across all United States demographics. African American smokers clearly show higher smoking rates (14.6%) and are also less likely to quit smoking than European American and Latinx smokers despite making more attempts to stop smoking. A significant contributor to smoking among African Americans is the increased exposure to stress. Stress from daily life or stress from systemic racism during an attempt to stop smoking could hinder successful quit rates. As a result, smoking intervention programs directed toward African Americans can benefit from incorporating stress management skills and techniques. Past work has not leveraged stress and anxiety relations among this established health disparities group.


The specific aims of the BSRP are: 


  1. Treatment refinement and testing; and

  2. Assessment of mechanisms of action and moderators.

The BSRP aims to refine and conduct a comprehensive cultural adaptation of an initially tested novel, mobile intervention that targets anxiety sensitivity (AS) among African American smokers (Mobile Anxiety Sensitivity Program for Smoking: MASP). Our intervention is framed within the cultural context of interoceptive stress among African American smokers, supported by theory, empirical evidence, and characteristics of this group.

The program includes two phases and a follow-up assessment. Phase I will consist of a study of 25 African American smokers with elevated anxiety sensitivity (AS) using MASP. Phase II will include 200 African American smokers with elevated AS who are randomized to one of two treatment conditions: (1) the smartphone-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) QuitGuide app for standard mobile smoking cessation treatment or (2) MASP.

Participants in both phases and conditions complete assessments at baseline, daily during a 6-week intervention period, and at 26 and 52 weeks post quit day. Following the intervention period, participants complete an end-of-treatment interview. All participants receive nicotine replacement therapy as part of the behavioral intervention.


Dr. Zvolensky

Dr. Michael J. Zvolensky

MPI - University of Houston

Dr. Michael Zvolensky is a professor in the Department of Psychology. His program of research focuses on the co-occurrence of anxiety and stress-related psychopathology with substance use disorders, health behavior problems, and physical illness (e.g., chronic pain). His work is globally aimed at eliminating inequalities in psychopathology, addictive, and other health risk behaviors through translational research. Dr. Zvolensky has a history of sustained team science funding from over 60 grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (e.g., R01, R21, U54). For this Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) at the University of Houston (UH), Dr. Zvolensky will serve as the primary investigator for the behavioral science research project to refine and evaluate a novel, mobile intervention that targets sensitivity to interoceptive stress among African American smokers.

Dr. Businelle

Dr. Michael Businelle

MPI - University of Oklahoma

Dr. Michael Businelle is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Co- Director of the TSET Health Promotion Research Center, and Director of the mHealth Shared Resource at the Stephenson Cancer Center. His research primarily focuses on using smartphones to collect data, predict health behaviors (e.g., smoking/alcohol relapse), and intervene in real-time to support health behavior change. He is currently a Principal Investigator (PI) or a Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI) on five ongoing NIH funded studies including mHealth applications that focus on smoking cessation, alcohol cessation, case management, and COVID-19. Dr. Businelle is the primary inventor of the versatile and robust Insight mHealth platform which has been used to develop and support 55 smartphone-based assessment and intervention studies to date (28 of these studies have been funded by the NIH).


Dr. Lorra Garey

University of Houston


Dr. Matthew Gallagher

University of Houston



Dr. Anka Vujanovic

University of Houston



Dr. Tzuan A. Chen

University of Houston



Dr. Emily Hebert

University of Oklahoma



Dr. Chris Neal

University of Oklahoma

Staff Member


Ms. Tanushri Bhushan

University of Oklahoma

Staff Member

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