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Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study

Revised April 2019

What is the PATH Study?

The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study is a nationally representative longitudinal study of tobacco use and health in the United States. A collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products, the study was launched in 2011, started the first wave of data collection in 2013, and completed its fourth wave in late 2017.

Science Spotlight: E-cig ads and cigarette smoking in youth (March 26, 2018)

By following study participants over time, the PATH Study helps scientists learn how and why people start using tobacco products, quit using them, and start using them again after they’ve quit, as well as how different tobacco products affect health outcomes (such as cardiovascular and respiratory health) over time. Most participants complete the study questionnaire every other year.

The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study Data User Workshop: Making Nationally Representative Inferences from the PATH Study Data

Instructor(s):

  • Katy Edwards, PhD (Westat)
  • Jean Opsomer, PhD (Westat)

The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study is a collaboration between the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The PATH Study is a household-based, nationally representative, longitudinal cohort study of approximately 46,000 adults and youth (ages 12-17) in the United States. The Study was launched in 2011 to inform the FDA's regulatory activities under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that was signed into law in 2009.

This workshop will focus on the PATH Study sample design and weighting. Specifically, attendees will gain a better understanding of how to conduct longitudinal analyses to estimate change over time as well as pseudo-cross-sectional analyses to estimate prevalence.

The workshop will consist of a brief overview of the PATH Study and detailed discussion of sample design and weights for all types of PATH Study data files (including youth, adult, biomarker, and state identifier data files). Participants will also gain hands-on experience working with the data and understanding the weighted results.

The focus of this workshop will be on understanding and using the PATH Study data files, not on a specific analytic approach. The workshop will be a combination of lecture, discussion, and hands-on exercises.

The course is designed for academic faculty and research professionals as well as for graduate students interested in tobacco regulatory science and/or tobacco biomarkers of exposure. Participants should be comfortable with data analysis software and quantitative research methods. All examples and exercises will utilize SAS statistical software, although participants may use the software of their choice. The workshop will include two full days of instruction and exercises.  To get the most out of the workshop, participants should plan to attend both full days.

Prerequisites: Participants should have a basic understanding of secondary data organization and manipulation, fundamental data analysis skills, working knowledge of a statistical software package (e.g., SAS, Stata, and R) and a substantive interest in tobacco regulatory research. 

Application: Admission to this workshop is competitive. Enrollment is limited.  To apply, please visit the Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research page and click on the Registration tab. Provide your information, select the course, and indicate your experience with quantitative research methods. Also, upload the following required documents via the registration portal:

  1. Current curriculum vita with a select list of publications (Please highlight your research interests and any experience and/or coursework relevant to the PATH Study Summer Workshop, particularly prior experience with tobacco research and/or quantitative analytic methods)
  2. Research project description (Priority will be given to applicants whose project description indicates interest in using the PATH Study data for tobacco regulatory research. The project description should include references to theory or historical context, how the project extends what is presently known, and why the PATH Study data are needed for the project)

Fee: There is no tuition fee for the workshop.

Application Open Period: April 15 - May 10, 2019.

Course Sections

Section 1

  • Location: ICPSR – Ann Arbor, MI
  • Date(s): August 12-13, 2019
  • Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

PATH Study: Researchers Encouraged to Request Access to Wave 2 Biomarker Restricted Use Files, Apply to Biospecimen Access Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and FDA announced the availability of the Wave 2 Biomarker Restricted-Use Files (BRUF) from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. These latest additions to the PATH Study’s Restricted-Use Files (RUF) contain the results of laboratory analyses from the specimens collected from adult participants during Wave 2 (October 2014-October 2015). Qualified researchers may apply for access through the PATH Study Restricted Use Files webpage. In addition, the Biospecimen Access Program site provides information on how to access the urine, serum, and plasma collected from adult PATH Study participants during Wave 1.  

The PATH Study is a household-based, nationally representative, longitudinal cohort study of youth (12-17 years old) and adults in the United States. The study was launched in 2011 to inform FDA’s regulatory activities under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. For the latest announcements, data releases and updates, new publications, upcoming events, and other information for PATH Study data users, join the PATH Study Data User Forum. The forum enables researchers using PATH Study data to submit and answer questions.

Study Team

Scientists at NIDA and the FDA are leading the PATH Study. They are working with Westat, a research company with expertise in survey design, questionnaire development, data collection, and analysis. Westat also manages a team of partner organizations working on the Study.

The Principal Investigator of the PATH Study is located at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Other participating scientists are from:

Goals

By monitoring and assessing behaviors, attitudes, biomarkers, and health outcomes associated with tobacco use in the United States, the PATH Study helps enhance the evidence base informing FDA’s regulatory activities related to tobacco. Specifically, the study aims to:

  • Examine susceptibility to tobacco product use;
  • Study the progression of tobacco product use, including initiation, dependence, cessation, and relapse;
  • Evaluate patterns of tobacco use, including:
    • use of newer products, such as e-cigarettes or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems);
    • poly-use;
    • switching products;
  • Track potential behavioral and health impacts, including biomarkers of exposure and potential harm; and
  • Assess differences in tobacco-related attitudes, behaviors, and health conditions among racial/ethnic, gender, and age subgroups over time.

Initial Findings

About 46,000 people aged 12 years and older, including tobacco users and non-users, were included in the first wave of the PATH Study.

Initial data on adult and youth tobacco use, published January 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that more than 25 percent of American adults were current users of tobacco in 2013-14 and roughly 9 percent of youth reported using tobacco in the past 30 days. Multiple product use was common among tobacco users, accounting for roughly 40 percent of adult and youth tobacco users, with cigarettes and e-cigarettes being the most common combination among both age groups.

Among tobacco users who reported using more than one product:

  • 23 percent of adults and 15 percent of youth used cigarettes and e-cigarettes
  • 6 percent of adults and 4 percent of youth used cigarettes and hookah
  • 2 percent of adults and 5 percent of youth used e-cigarettes and hookah
  • 5 percent of adults and 10 percent of youth used cigarettes and cigarillos

The study reports prevalence for additional product combinations used by study participants.

Data Access

Data and documentation (questionnaires, codebooks) related to the PATH Study are available at the study website at the National Addiction & HIV Data Archive Program (NAHDAP), including instructions for access to restricted- and public-use files:

Data from additional waves will be released as they become available.

Biospecimen Access Program (BAP)

Biospecimens collected from PATH Study participants are also available to the research community. Investigators proposing meritorious and feasible studies consistent with PATH Study objectives or research priorities for tobacco regulatory science will be given highest priority for access to these biospecimens. Proposals addressing other objectives that advance the knowledge of tobacco use or tobacco-related health outcomes will also be considered. There are two submission and review cycles per year, beginning in September and May. Application instructions and deadlines are available at the PATH Study webpage on the NAHDAP website:

Journal Publications

Listed below is a selection of peer-reviewed journal articles using data from the PATH Study. See the PATH Study website at NAHDAP or search PubMed.gov for a complete list of publications.

Additional Resources

Questions?

Contact PATHStudyinfo@westat.com.

This page was last updated April 2019

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