How do smoking cessation medicines compare with respect to their neuropsychiatric safety? A protocol for a systematic review, network meta-analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis

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INTRODUCTION: Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of early death in the UK and worldwide. Public health guidance recommends the use of varenicline, bupropion and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as smoking cessation aids in the UK. Additionally, the first electronic cigarette has been licensed for use as a smoking cessation medicine. However, there are ongoing concerns about the safety of these medicines. We present a protocol for a systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA) to determine how these smoking cessation medicines compare to each other with respect to their neuropsychiatric safety in adult smokers. Secondary aims include updating the evidence regarding the effectiveness and cardiovascular safety of these medicines for use in a cost-effectiveness analysis.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will include randomised controlled trials and observational studies with control groups comparing monotherapy with varenicline, bupropion, NRT or electronic cigarette and combination therapies to each other, placebo or usual care. The primary composite safety outcome will be serious adverse events, defined as events that resulted in death, were life threatening, required hospitalisation or resulted in significant disability or congenital/birth defect. The preferred effectiveness outcome will be sustained smoking cessation defined as abstinence for a minimum of 6 months as determined by biochemical validation. We will include trials identified by previous reviews and search relevant databases for newly published trials as well as contacting study authors to identify unpublished information. We will conduct fixed-effect and random-effect meta-analyses for each pairwise comparison of treatments and outcome; where these estimates differ, we will consider reasons for heterogeneity, quantified using the between-study variance (τ(2)). For each outcome, we will construct a NMA in a Bayesian framework which will be compared with the pair-wise results, allowing us to rank treatments. The effectiveness estimates from the NMA will be entered into a probabilistic economic model.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethics approval is not required for this evidence synthesis study as it involves analysis of secondary data from randomised controlled trials and observational studies. The review will make an important contribution to the knowledge base around the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation medicines. Results will be disseminated to the general public, healthcare practitioners and clinicians, academics, industry and policy makers.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere015414
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Cognitive Science
  • Social Cognition
  • Tobacco and Alcohol
  • SASH


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