Open Access Open Badges Research article

Socio-demographic factors and processes associated with stages of change for smoking cessation in pregnant versus non-pregnant women

Alessandra Buja1, Emanuela Guarnieri2, Giovanni Forza3, Federica Tognazzo3, Paolo Sandonà1 and Alessandra Zampieron4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Hygiene Institute, University of Padua, Italy

2 Department of Gynecological Sciences and Human Reproduction, University of Padua, Italy

3 Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Toxicology Unit, University of Padua, Italy

4 School of Nursing, University of Padua, Italy

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BMC Women's Health 2011, 11:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-11-3

Published: 24 January 2011



The tobacco control community assumes that the most effective interventions are personalized. Nevertheless, little attention is paid to understanding differences between pregnant and non-pregnant European women in terms of the social factors that influence tobacco use and the processes of change used to quit smoking.


The study consecutively enrolled 177 pregnant women who acknowledged smoking the year before pregnancy and 177 non-pregnant women who acknowledged smoking the year before their clinic visit for a Pap test.


With respect to socio-demographic factors, the stages of change in pregnant women were associated with level of education, marital status, and the presence of roommates, partners and friends who smoke. In pregnant women, there was no statistically significant difference in the processes used to stop smoking among the stages of change. Furthermore, behavioral processes were higher in non-pregnant women than in pregnant women, and the difference was statistically significant in the advanced stages of behavioral change. Both pregnant and non-pregnant women showed higher levels of acceptance towards smoking in the earlier stages of change, but the acceptability of smoking in the pre-contemplative stage was higher in non-pregnant women. Greater craving was detected in non-pregnant vs. pregnant women at all stages and reached a statistically significant level at the pre-contemplative stage.


Pregnancy is a favorable time to stop smoking since pregnant women are more likely to be in an advanced stage of behavioral change. Pregnant and non-pregnant women are distinct populations in the types and processes of change involved in smoking cessation. The intervention programs to promote smoking cessation and prevent relapses will need to take these differences into account.