Last updated on February 2018

Behavioral Activation and Varenicline for Smoking Cessation in Depressed Smokers


Brief description of study

Persons who struggle with depression smoke at high rates and experience low quit rates in treatment. The best way to improve cessation treatment for this underserved population remains unknown. The proposed trial tests whether the combination of varenicline and behavioral mood management treatment enhances long-term abstinence for depressed smokers and, if so, whether this treatment achieves its effects through addressing the unique psychological factors that appear to maintain tobacco dependence for these smokers.

Detailed Study Description

Upwards of 43% of persons with major depressive disorder (MDD) are daily smokers who are more likely to smoke heavily, show greater tobacco dependence, suffer more severe withdrawal, and experience lower quit rates than smokers without MDD. Little is known about treatment strategies that might optimize smoking cessation for smokers with MDD because almost all randomized clinical trials have excluded these smokers. This project answers many prominent but largely unanswered calls over the last decade to address tobacco dependence in persons with mental health disorders, especially major depressive disorder (MDD). Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized design, the investigators will evaluate the efficacy of behavioral activation for smoking cessation (BASC) plus varenicline for treating tobacco dependence in smokers with current or recent (past two years) MDD. Five hundred and seventy-six daily (1 cigarettes/day) smokers will be randomized to receive 12 weeks of one of four treatments: 1) Standard behavioral cessation treatment (ST) + placebo; 2) Behavioral activation integrated with ST (BASC) + placebo; 3) ST + varenicline; or 4) BASC + varenicline. Both BASC and ST will be administered in eight 45 minute sessions, occurring weekly for the first four weeks and biweekly for the final eight weeks. Randomization will be stratified on clinical site (Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania), gender, and severity of depressive symptoms (minimal/mild vs. moderate/severe). The primary outcomes will be carbon monoxide (CO) verified 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 24-weeks post-quit. Additional aims include assessing adverse event rates between varenicline and placebo arms, and testing for mediation of treatment effects by anhedonia, cognitive function (attention and memory), cigarette reward value, and craving and withdrawal. This randomized controlled trial will be the first adequately powered trial of BASC in this population; the first trial to evaluate varenicline among a community sample of smokers with MDD; and the first trial to assess the main and combined effects of these two treatments.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02378714

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Northwestern University

Chicago, IL United States
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University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA United States
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Recruitment Status: Open


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