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Laboratory Validation of a Novel Inertial Sensor Technology for Monitoring Cigarette Smoking Events

Funding Source

National Institute on Drug Abuse – Center for Technology and Behavioral Health Pilot Core

Project Period

February 2012 – January 2013

Principal Investigator

Bethany Raiff, PhD

Other Project Staff

Erin McClure (Co-I, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)

Project Summary

Cigarette smoking remains the number one cause of preventable morbidity and mortality in the US. Researchers studying issues such as initiating smoking abstinence, preventing relapse during a quit attempt, and improving the efficacy of smoking cessation treatment interventions have relied on a number of procedural methods to identify smoking status. However, all of these techniques suffer from limitations that prevent accurate estimates of smoking, which may contribute to the noted deficits that exist in smoking cessation interventions. One solution to these limitations in assessing smoking status, and in capturing individual smoking events, is to use a remote monitoring system. Remote monitoring may provide sensitive detection of smoking, even if only a few puffs of a cigarette are taken in the natural environment. The goal of this project is to validate a prototype remote monitoring technology that uses inertial sensors and a movement-detection algorithm to identify smoking events and differentiate them from non-smoking movement events with actual smokers. Smoking will be directly observed in the laboratory using a controlled paced-puffing procedure and a portable smoking topography device that will hold constant a number of smoking events (e.g., puff volume, number of puffs per cigarette) in order to cross-validate the sensors with directly observed and measurable smoking events. Participants will also smoke with inertial sensors under more natural conditions without the portable topography devices, but still under direct observation in the laboratory for cross-validation purposes.

Results from this study will provide an initial validation of a novel sensor technology to detect smoking events and differentiate them with non-smoking movements of the arm and wrist. Subsequent studies will explore the use of these sensors in a smoker’s natural environment and verify the acceptability of the sensors in comfort and ease of use. The ultimate goal of validating this novel remote monitoring technology is to develop more efficacious smoking cessation interventions. Because inertial sensor technology would bring us one large step closer to measuring the actual target behavior (i.e. smoking), as opposed to more global byproducts of the target behavior (i.e. biological measures of recent smoking, such as carbon monoxide or cotinine), this technology may provide a mechanism to explore the relative efficacy of providing targeted interventions based on the occurrence (or non-occurrence) of the target behavior. Remote monitoring systems for detecting target behavior hold the promise for highly effective interventions to promote behavior change by providing feedback and incentives immediately and with high fidelity for a range of unhealthy or problematic behavior. This particular smoking detection technology would allow for more nuanced and targeted interventions, with the goal of promoting long-term abstinence and preventing relapse. Although the goal of the present project is to measure cigarette smoking, validation of this procedure will also help advance the science and clinical treatment of other target responses (e.g., marijuana or crack cocaine smoking, unhealthy eating behaviors, etc).