Effectiveness of varenicline for smoking cessation at 2 urban academic health centers

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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BACKGROUND: Smoking is a major cause of morbidity in lower socioeconomic groups. In randomized trials, varenicline improves long term quit rates, but effectiveness in a clinic setting is unknown. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of adults who received a prescription for varenicline or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) at two inner city health centers in 2008-9. Primary outcome was smoking status at 52 weeks. Secondary outcomes included follow up visits, behavioral counseling, and side effects. Multivariable Poisson regression was used to compare quit rates with varenicline and NRT adjusted for covariates. KEY RESULTS: A total of 371 patients received a prescription for varenicline (46%) or NRT (54%). The mean age was 43 years, 58% were female, 44% white, 29% African American and 12% Hispanic. Mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse were common. Within one year, 247 (67%) had follow-up, and 26 (10.5%) maintained abstinence through week 52, 10.2% with varenicline and 10.8% with NRT (p=1.0). Loss to follow-up was 37% for varenicline, 31% for NRT (p=0.20). Including lost patients as smokers, the adjusted quit rates for varenicline and NRT were similar (6.5% vs. 7.6%, p=0.69). Only 69/371 (19%) received behavioral counseling. Counseled patients were more likely to maintain abstinence (13% vs. 7.8%, p=0.04). Side effects were more common with varenicline than NRT (6.5% vs. 2.5%, p=0.07). CONCLUSION: In an inner city clinic, abstinence rates were lower than those in clinical trials and did not differ between varenicline and NRT. Copyright © 2012 European Federation of Internal Medicine. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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