Background: Healthcare professionals play a key role in tobacco use prevention because they are considered as model by patients. This multicenter study was aimed to evaluate smoking prevalence, knowledge and attitudes towards tobacco among Italian hospital professionals. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out using a questionnaire administered to healthcare professionals in seven Italian hospitals, to investigate personal and occupational data, knowledge, attitudes, job setting, clinical activities, smoking habits and pattern for current smokers. Potential predictors of current smoking habits were evaluated using multiple logistic regressions. Results: Sample population was comprised of 1082 health professionals (51.4% females; mean age was 37.3 years: 25.3% were nurses, 24.5% medical doctors, 17.1% students and 33.1% other healthcare workers). Smoking prevalence was 44%. Among responders, 67.7% considered healthcare professional as a model for citizens, 90.5% declared to see colleagues smoking cigarettes inside the hospital (47.4% in the dependents' toilets, 33.4% in the department kitchens and 4.7% in the patient room). Multivariate analysis showed that healthcare professionals working in Naples had a higher risk to be smokers in comparison to Rome [odds ratio (OR) = 2.29; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.40-3.73]. Compared to medical doctors, post-graduate students (OR = 3.42; 95% CI: 1.81-6.44), nurses (OR = 2.48; 95% CI 1.51-4.08), nursing students (OR = 1.91; 95% CI 1.08-3.38) and auxiliary personnel (OR = 2.72; 95% CI 1.51-4.88), showed a higher likelihood of smoking. Conclusions: Among Italian hospital personnel there is a paradoxically large prevalence of smokers, higher than in the general population. Interventions aimed for the development of an adequate culture of health promotion, among these professionals, are urgently needed.
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