Experiences of hospitalized smokers initiated on varenicline as part of a pragmatic smoking cessation trial

Rukshar K. Gobarani, Gregory R. Weeks, Michael J. Abramson, Billie Bonevski, Shin J. Liau, Johnson George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Varenicline is an effective monotherapy for smoking cessation, but adherence is often suboptimal. This qualitative study explored the experiences of varenicline treatment among participants enrolled in a randomized controlled trial, who self-reported being adherent or nonadherent to varenicline treatment (n = 15). Individual interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were analyzed using thematic framework approach. An environment of forced abstinence played a key role in motivating quit attempts. The main barriers to varenicline adherence were medicine-related side effects, relapse to smoking, and a belief that the medication was not working if abstinence was not achieved by the target quit date. Participants adherent to treatment adopted a reduce-to-quit approach and noticed a gradual reduction in cigarette cravings. When asked about their preferences for support while on varenicline treatment, participants expressed the need for proactive follow-up by health professionals and more active behavioral support to assist them in adhering to treatment. Prescribers should encourage varenicline users to persist with treatment, even if abstinence is not achieved by the target quit date. Further research is needed to explore the awareness and acceptability of the reduce-to-quit method among prescribers and patients and its impact on varenicline adherence and in term long-term abstinence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-250
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • adherence
  • barriers
  • experiences
  • hospitalization
  • qualitative study
  • smoking cessation
  • Varenicline


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