Efficacy and safety of combination behavioral activation for smoking cessation and varenicline for treating tobacco dependence among individuals with current or past major depressive disorder: A 2 × 2 factorial, randomized, placebo-controlled trial

Brian Hitsman*, George D. Papandonatos, Jacqueline K. Gollan, Mark D. Huffman, Raymond Niaura, David C. Mohr, Anna K. Veluz-Wilkins, Su Fen Lubitz, Anita Hole, Frank T. Leone, Sadiya S. Khan, Erica N. Fox, Anna Marika Bauer, E. Paul Wileyto, Joseph Bastian, Robert A. Schnoll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Aims: Treatment of depression-related psychological factors related to smoking behavior may improve rates of cessation among adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). This study measured the efficacy and safety of 12 weeks of behavioral activation for smoking cessation (BASC), varenicline and their combination. Design, Setting, Participants: This study used a randomized, placebo-controlled, 2 × 2 factorial design comparing BASC versus standard behavioral treatment (ST) and varenicline versus placebo, taking place in research clinics at two urban universities in the United States. Participants comprised 300 hundred adult smokers with current or past MDD. Interventions: BASC integrated behavioral activation therapy and ST to increase engagement in rewarding activities by reducing avoidance, withdrawal and inactivity associated with depression. ST was based on the 2008 PHS Clinical Practice Guideline. Both treatments consisted of eight 45-min sessions delivered between weeks 1 and 12. Varenicline and placebo were administered for 12 weeks between weeks 2 and 14. Measurements: Primary outcomes were bioverified intent-to-treat (ITT) 7-day point-prevalence abstinence at 27 weeks and adverse events (AEs). Findings: No significant interaction was detected between behavioral treatment and pharmacotherapy at 27 weeks (χ2(1) = 0.19, P = 0.67). BASC and ST did not differ (χ2(1) = 0.43, P = 0.51). Significant differences in ITT abstinence rates (χ2(1) = 4.84, P = 0.03) emerged among pharmacotherapy arms (16.2% for varenicline, 7.5% for placebo), with results favoring varenicline over placebo (rate ratio = 2.16, 95% confidence interval = 1.08, 4.30). All significant differences in AE rates after start of medication were higher for placebo than varenicline. Conclusion: A randomized trial in smokers with major depressive disorder found that varenicline improved smoking abstinence versus placebo at 27 weeks without elevating rates of adverse events. Behavioral activation for smoking cessation did not outperform standard behavioral treatment, with or without adjunctive varenicline therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1710-1725
Number of pages16
JournalAddiction
Volume118
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Keywords

  • adults
  • behavioral activation therapy
  • major depressive disorder
  • smoking cessation treatment
  • tobacco dependence
  • varenicline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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