A Comparative Effectiveness and Long-Term Health Study in Wisconsin Smokers

Investigator: Neal Benowitz, MD
Sponsor: University of Wisconsin System

Location(s): United States


The overall purpose of this research is two-fold. First, the two smoking cessation medication treatments with the strongest evidence of effectiveness have never been directly compared. This research will determine how these two treatments compare in effectiveness in a head-to-head trial, and which types of smokers benefit most from each. Second, much of the data on smoking and health come from studies from many years ago. Today's smokers differ from earlier smokers in many ways that could influence the impact of smoking on health (e.g., weight, sex, diet, socio-economic status); the proposed work will determine how smoking cessation affects cardiovascular and pulmonary health in today's smokers.

The proposed study will recruit and treat a large sample of contemporary smokers and former smokers at an age of increasing health risk, to achieve the following over-arching aims that are important to the NHLBI mission:

  • Specific Aim 1: Produce important new data on how to treat smoking optimally by conducting an open label comparative effectiveness trial (CET) that for the first time directly contrasts the two smoking cessation pharmacotherapies with the strongest extant evidence of efficacy: combination NRT and varenicline.
  • Specific Aim 2: Determine the impact of smoking cessation on biomarkers and health risk factors, especially those relevant to CVD, in today's smokers, which will elucidate the mechanisms via which cessation benefits health.
  • Specific Aim 3: Identify which individuals are at greatest risk for exacerbation of biomarkers or risk factor status due to continued smoking, and who will benefit most from cessation. This will help identify individuals who are most in need of cessation intervention. While all smokers need to quit, this evidence could ultimately be used to help focus treatment and motivate smokers and clinicians to intervene more intensively with patients at greatest risk.

Two secondary aims are to use the results of Primary Aim 1 to develop a treatment assignment algorithm for the optimal treatment of today's smokers and to use the results from Primary Aim 2 to determine the relation of health biomarkers to clinically meaningful disease outcomes such as CVD events.

We will re-recruit as many smoking and non smoking participants from our past longitudinal cohort study("Wisconsin Smokers' Health study") in 2004. We will then recruit additional smokers to participate in the comparative effectiveness trial and join the longitudinal cohort..

All participants who enroll will complete questionnaires about their demographics, smoking history, withdrawal symptoms, affect, alcohol use, stressors, medication usage and diet. They will also complete a structured clinical interview to assess mental health. They will provide blood samples for testing of various markers of cardiovascular disease and risk as well as for genetics testing. They will all have carotid ultrasounds, pulmonary function tests, arterial tonometry assessments, and 12-lead ECGs. Participants in Madison will also have a treadmill stress test. Participants will wear a pedometer for 1 week and record the daily number of steps. Participants will provide permission for staff to review their medical charts to assess smoking-relevant diagnoses and treatment. These assessments will occur at baseline and again 3 years later. A smaller subset of these assessments will also be conducted 1 year after enrollment. Participants will also complete brief phone assessments at 6-month intervals up to the 3-year visit.

Interested and eligible smoking participants from the original cohort study and all newly recruited participants will enroll in a new smoking cessation intervention study. Participants in the cessation treatment study will be randomly assigned to receive the nicotine patch, nicotine patch + nicotine lozenge or varenicline. If the participant from the original cohort study is not eligible to use all study medications but is otherwise eligible for cessation treatment, s/he will be assigned to a non-randomized treatment arm and will receive nicotine patch (if appropriate). All cessation participants will receive 6 individual counseling sessions.