PATH Study FAQs for Researchers

PDF of FAQs

Overview of the PATH Study

The PATH Study is a collaboration between the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On September 19, 2011, NIH/NIDA awarded a research contract to Westat, an independent research firm in Maryland, to conduct the PATH Study. This contract was renewed to Westat on April 1, 2016.

The TCA was signed into law in 2009 and gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products.

Some of the specific authorities that the TCA grants to FDA include:

  • Restricting tobacco sales, distribution, and marketing to youth;
  • Requiring disclosure of tobacco product ingredients;
  • Implementing standards for tobacco products to protect public health; and
  • Requiring warning labels on smokeless tobacco products.

The PATH Study is a national longitudinal cohort study. The field test for the PATH Study took place between November 2012 and February 2013. Wave 1 of data collection began in September 2013 and was completed in December 2015; the second wave of data collection began in October 2014 and was completed in October 2015. The third wave of data collection took place from October 2015 through October 2016, followed by the fourth wave of data collection, which began in December 2016 and is scheduled for completion a year later, on November 30, 2017.

Documentation and Publications

The Adult and Youth/Parent questionnaires and supporting documentation for Wave 1, Wave 2 and Wave 3 are available on the RUF and PUF pages on the NAHDAP Website and also provided below.

The Biomarker questionnaires and supporting documentation for Wave 1 are available on the BRUF page on the NAHDAP Website and also provided below.

Please note that the Wave 4 instrument below is not the final version of this instrument, but is the version that was fielded. The final annotated instruments and codebooks will be available when the data are released and will reflect issues that were identified and corrected during and after they were fielded.

The PATH Study's documentation is available for your use and may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse or FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. Citation of the source is appreciated.

Due to publication restrictions by journals, the PATH Study is not permitted to distribute PDFs of the articles published using the PATH Study data. However, these articles are cited on the PATH Study Series page. You may be able to access these publications through your individual and/or institutional subscriptions. Publications supported by NIH funds will become publicly available at PubMed Central no later than 12 months after the official date of publication, as noted in the NIH Public Access Policy. Other journals may make their articles open-access. Alternatively, you can contact the corresponding author directly to request a copy of the article.

PATH Study-supported posters and presentations are listed here. If you are interested in obtaining a PDF copy of the PATH Study-supported posters and presentations, please email the request directly to the presentation/poster author. Please note that PATH Study-related presentations that were not supported by the contract are not included in this list.

Access to the Data

The questionnaire data in the PATH Study RUF are only accessible through the ICPSR Virtual Data Enclave (VDE). Use the "apply online" link in the PATH Study RUF Access Notes. The initial screen in the VDE Management System describes the process to apply. Applicants are encouraged to also read our online VDE Guide.

The PATH Study Biomarker RUF is only accessible through the ICPSR Virtual Data Enclave (VDE). Use the "apply online" link in the PATH Study Biomarker RUF Access Notes. The initial screen in the VDE Management System describes the process to apply. Applicants are encouraged to also read our online VDE Guide.

Researchers interested in accessing PATH Study biospecimens for biospecimen research should refer to the PATH Study Biospecimen Access Program page. This page provides instructions on applying for access, the schedule for reviewing applications, and frequently asked questions about the program.

Please refer to our VDE Guide. Please cite your use of the PATH Study RUFs in your publication using the citations provided in the PATH Study RUF study description and the PATH Study Biomarker RUF study description. In addition, use the citation web form to notify ICPSR of your publication so that it can be added to the ICPSR Bibliography.

Since you are using the PATH Study PUF downloaded from the NAHDAP Website, you can analyze and publish from those data without having NAHDAP review any of your materials before publication. However, when presenting or publishing on that data, remember that you are required by the PUF's Terms of Use to protect the identity of all research subjects and the confidentiality of the information that they provided from deductive disclosure. Please cite your use of the PATH Study PUF in your publication using the citation provided in the PATH Study PUF study description. In addition, use the citation web form to notify ICPSR of your publication so that it can be added to the ICPSR Bibliography.

Data Analysis

The PATH Study is unable to assist with individual analytic questions from researchers. Please refer to the PATH Study information provided at this site, as well as other pages at ICPSR such as the Help and the Teaching & Learning pages. You may also wish to consult with statisticians and analysts at your institution with more specific questions.

The PATH Study does not provide funding for secondary data analysis. However, interested researchers are encouraged to check the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts page for funding opportunity announcements that suit their research goals.

Specific Data Content

The nicotine dependence questions were developed using various nicotine dependence scales, including the following: Wisconsin Inventory of Smoking Dependence Motives (WISDM (primary and secondary), Hooked on Nicotine Checklist (HONC), Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale (NDSS), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (risky use, social impairment, impaired control, withdrawal) and Fagerstrom.

The generic tobacco product images used in the questionnaire are included in the appendix of the annotated instruments. However, due to the PATH Study's legal agreement with the advertising monitoring and aggregation companies that furnished the tobacco product advertisements used in the first wave of the study, the specific tobacco product images cannot be released.