UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Understanding smoking after acute illness: An application of the sentinel event method

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine; Department of Pyschiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


The sentinel event theory provides a stepwise approach for building models to understand how negative events can spark health behaviour change. This study tested a preliminary model using the sentinel events method in a sample (N = 300) of smokers who sought care for acute cardiac symptoms. Patients completed measures on: smoking-related causal attribution, perceived severity of the acute illness event, illness-related fear and intentions to quit smoking. Patients were followed up one week after the health event and a seven-day timeline follow back was completed to determine abstinence from tobacco. Structural equation models were performed using average predictor scale scores at baseline, as well as three different time anchors for ratings of illness severity and illness-related fear. Quit intentions, actual illness severity and age were the consistent, positive and independent predictors of seven-day point prevalence abstinence. Additional research on the influences of perceptions and emotional reactions is warranted.

DOI of Published Version



Psychol Health. 2015 Aug;30(8):879-896. Epub 2015 Jan 15. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychology and health

PubMed ID