Open Access Study protocol

The Pap smear screening as an occasion for smoking cessation and physical activity counselling: baseline characteristics of women involved in the SPRINT randomized controlled trial

Elisabetta Chellini16*, Giuseppe Gorini1, Giulia Carreras1, Livia Giordano2, Emanuela Anghinoni3, Anna Iossa1, Cristina Bellati1, Elisa Grechi4, Alessandro Coppo2, Fiorella Talassi3, Maria Rosa Giovacchini5 and the SPRINT Working Group

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, Florence, Italy

2 CPO Piedmont, Turin, Italy

3 Local Health Authority, Mantua, Italy

4 Italian League against Cancer, Florence, Italy

5 Local Health Authority, Florence, Italy

6 Unit of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (ISPO), Via delle Oblate 2, 50141 Florence, Italy

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:906  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-906

Published: 7 December 2011



Gender-specific smoking cessation strategies have rarely been developed. Evidence of effectiveness of physical activity (PA) promotion and intervention in adjunct to smoking cessation programs is not strong. SPRINT study is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to evaluate a counselling intervention on smoking cessation and PA delivered to women attending the Italian National Health System Cervical Cancer Screening Program. This paper presents study design and baseline characteristics of the study population.


Among women undergoing the Pap examination in three study centres (Florence, Turin, Mantua), participants were randomized to the smoking cessation counselling [S], the smoking cessation + PA counselling [S + PA], or the control [C] groups. The program under evaluation is a standard brief counselling on smoking cessation combined with a brief counselling on increasing PA, and was delivered in 2010. A questionnaire, administered before, after 6 months and 1 year from the intervention, was used to track behavioural changes in tobacco use and PA, and to record cessation rates in participants.


Out of the 5,657 women undergoing the Pap examination, 1,100 participants (55% of smokers) were randomized in 1 of the 3 study groups (363 in the S, 366 in the S + PA and 371 in the C groups). The three arms did not differ on any demographic, PA, or tobacco-use characteristics. Recruited smokers were older, less educated than non-participant women, more motivated to quit (33% vs.9% in the Preparation stage, p < 0.001), smoked more cigarettes per day (12 vs.9, p < 0.001), and were more likely to have already done 1 or more quit attempts (64% vs.50%, p < 0.001). The approach of SPRINT study appeared suitable to enrol less educated women who usually smoke more and have more difficulties to quit.

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