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Project SOAR: Depression, Smoking Collide

Conquest - Summer 2010

The old expression, “It takes two to tango,” may be the case when it comes to the relationship between depression and smoking. Project SOAR , a pilot project administered through the Behavioral Research and Treatment Center at
MD Anderson, is currently enrolling participants to help determine if this pairing affects a person’s efforts to quit smoking.

Studying the connection between depression and smoking
are Andrea Taylor Holly, Ph.D. (left), a postdoctoral fellow,
and Janice Blalock, Ph.D., associate professor, both in the
Department of Behavioral Science.

“There is a fair amount of data that shows a connection between depression and smoking, and that depression interferes with a person’s efforts to quit,” says Janice Blalock, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and principal investigator on the project.

Project SOAR tests if it is more effective to combine treatment of depression with traditional smoking-cessation treatment, or if it is better or just as effective to treat the depressed smokers for their smoking habit, without addressing depression.

“The pilot is unique in that this question has never been tested before in smokers who are currently depressed,” Blalock says.

Participants are broken into two groups. Both will receive smoking cessation treatment, but only one group will have the additional mood management counseling that treats depression.

Should health practitioners treat the disease and the habit or just administer the smoking-cessation treatment? Blalock, her co-investigators and collaborators are hoping the pilot project will provide the answers and open the door for future studies.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center