Quit-Smoking Research

Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) has been studying how to help people stop smoking since the 1980s. Our research has helped change the way quit-smoking treatment is delivered and paid for nationwide, not just at Group Health.

Want to volunteer for a study?

We often seek Group Health members and others to help us evaluate new treatment programs. To learn more about quit-smoking studies that are seeking volunteers, please contact Ella Thompson at 206-442-5211 or thompson.e@ghc.org.

Want to learn more about our research?

Here is a selection of some of our current and recent studies on quitting smoking:


My Mobile Advice Program (MyMAP) will evaluate a new smart phone app developed by researchers at Group Health Research Institute, the University of California, and the University of Michigan. Study recruitment is closed and data collection is ongoing.



Partnering to Achieve Tobacco-free Health (PATH) is a joint study between Group Health Research Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. This clinical trial will compare how well different types of group-based counseling work to help people quit smoking. Study recruitment is closed and data collection is ongoing.



What content and design features are important to include in online smoking cessation programs to make them more effective? That’s the question the Questions about Quitting (Q2) study addressed. Q2 was a collaboration between researchers at Group Health Research Institute and the University of Michigan. More than 1,800 Group Health members participated in this innovative study, which the National Cancer Institute funded.

Key study publications:

McClure JB, Peterson D, Derry H, Riggs K, Saint-Johnson J, Nair V, Shortreed SM.
Exploring the “active ingredients” of an online smoking intervention: A randomized factorial trial.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2014 Aug;16(8):1129-39. Epub 2014 Apr 11. View article summary at PubMed.

McClure JB, Shortreed, S Bogart, A Derry, H Riggs, K St. John, J Nair, V, An L.

The effect of program design on engagement with an Internet-based smoking intervention: Randomized factorial trial.

Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2013 Mar 25;15(3). View article.



The BEACON study looked at whether it is possible to offer people different treatment (stop-smoking medicine and counseling) based on their genes. Results from this pilot study showed that not only was it possible to do this, but the treatment was well accepted. This study was a collaboration between researchers at Group Health Research Institute and Stanford University.

Key study publications:

McClure JB, Swan GE, St. John J, Fauver R, Javitz H, Bergen A, Nishita D, Niaura R, Munafo M, David S.

Pharmacogenetic smoking cessation intervention in a health care setting: A pilot feasibility study.

Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2013 Feb;15(2):518-26. Epub 2012 Sep 4. View article summary at PubMed.



The Step Up trial was a pilot project that evaluated the preliminary effectiveness of combining counseling for depression, physical activity, and quitting smoking into a single phone-delivered intervention. The results demonstrated the approach warrants further research in a larger randomized trial.

Key study publications:

McClure JB, Catz SL, Ludman EJ, Richards J, Riggs K, Grothaus, L.

Feasibility and acceptability of a multiple risk factor intervention: The Step Up randomized pilot trial.

BMC Public Health. 2011 Mar 17;11:167. View article.



The COMPASS trial compared three different forms of behavioral counseling (phone counseling, Web-based counseling, and phone + Web counseling) to determine which was more effective when combined with Chantix® (varenicline). Phone counseling appeared to do better during early treatment, but long-term stop smoking rates did not differ. All three programs were effective when combined with varenicline. The study also examined Chantix side effects and found they were generally mild to moderate for most smokers.

Key study publications:

Swan GE, McClure JB, Jack LM, Zbikowski SM, Javitz HS, Catz SL, Deprey M, Richards J, McAfee TA.

Behavioral counseling and varenicline treatment for smoking cessation.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2010 May;38(5):482-90. View article summary at PubMed.


McClure JB, Swan GE, Catz SL, Jack L, Javitz H, McAfee T, Deprey M, Richards J, Zbikowski SM.

Smoking outcome by psychiatric history after behavioral and varenicline treatment.

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2010 Jun;38(4):394-402. Epub 2010 Apr 2. View article summary at PubMed.


McClure JB, Swan GE, Jack L, Catz SL, Zbikowski SM, McAfee TA, Deprey M, Richards J, Javitz H.

Mood, side-effects and smoking outcomes among persons with and without probable lifetime depression taking varenicline.

Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2009 24(5):563-9. Epub 2009 Feb 24. View article at PubMed.


Javitz H, Zbikowski S, Deprey M, McAfee T, McClure JB, Richards J, Catz S, Jack L, Swan G.

Cost-effectiveness of varenicline and three different behavioral treatment formats for smoking cessation.

Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, and Research. 2011 Mar 1;1(1):182-190. View article summary at PubMed.


Halperin AC, McAfee TA, Jack LM, Catz SL, McClure JB, Deprey TM, Richards J, Zbikowski SM, Swan GE.

Impact of symptoms experienced by varenicline users on tobacco treatment in a real world setting.

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2009 Jun;36(4):428-34. Epub 2008 Nov 11. View article summary at PubMed.