Sustained-release bupropion for hospital-based smoking cessation: A randomized trial

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Bupropion is a first-line pharmacological aid for smoking cessation; however, no clinical trials have been conducted in a general population of hospitalized smokers.


We enrolled 85 smokers in a hospital-based randomized smoking cessation trial conducted at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. A total of 42 participants received a 7-week course of sustained-release bupropion and 43 participants received placebo. All participants received cognitive–behavioral counseling. We screened 14,997 patients, of whom 25% were current smokers. Of the 536 smokers who met the entry criteria, 451 opted not to enroll. We determined on-medication, end-of-medication, 3-month, and 6-month smoking cessation rates.


At the end of 7 weeks of drug treatment, self-reported quit rates were equivalent in the bupropion and placebo arms, 37% versus 33%, respectively (p=.82). The validated quit rates for the bupropion and placebo groups were 27% versus 29%, respectively (p=1.00). At 6 months, the self-reported quit rates were 29% in the bupropion group and 41% in the placebo group (p=.36). In a comparison of 6-month quit rates, validated either by salivary cotinine or by spousal proxy, we found nonsignificantly higher quit rates in the placebo group than in the bupropion group, 31% versus 15% (p=.12).


The addition of sustained-release bupropion to counseling did not increase quit rates, but the study was underpowered. Because of the secular trend toward shorter hospital stays, recruitment was very difficult, raising questions regarding the feasibility of future hospital-based smoking cessation trials and interventions.

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