Redefining smoking relapse as recovered social identity – secondary qualitative analysis of relapse narratives

Caitlin Notley, Rory Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Although many people in the general population manage to quit smoking, relapse is common. Theory underpinning the determinants of smoking relapse is under-developed. This article aims to specify theoretical insight into the process of relapse to smoking, to underpin effective intervention development. Secondary qualitative analysis of extended narratives of smoking relapse (n=23) were inductively coded within our conceptual framework of a socially situated narrative theoretical approach to identity. Smoking relapse is conceptualised as a situated rational response to a ‘disruption’ in individual narrative identity formation, and an attempt to recover a lost social identity. Emotional reactions to relapse, such as pleasure, but also guilt and shame, support this assertion by demonstrating the ambivalence of re-engaging in a behaviour that is situated and rational in terms of individual identity formation, yet ostracised and stigmatised by wider culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-666
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Issue number6
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • tobacco smoking relapse
  • social identity
  • secondary qualitative analysis

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