Journal of Professional Nursing

Cigarette smoking and the frequency of colposcopy visits, treatments and re-referral

Lamb, J. RN, BN, MHSc, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Colposcopy Department, Christchurch Women’s Hospital, Christchurch, NZ
Dawson, S.I. RN, BSC (Hons), MSc and Public Health Research, PhD, Senior Manager, Population Health Manager, BAML, Perth, Australia
Gagan, M.J. PhD, PHCNP, FAANP, CEO, Nurse Practitioners First Ltd. Christchurch, NZ
Peddie, D. FRANZCOG, MRCOG, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Christchurch Women’s Hospital, Christchurch, NZ

Reference:   Lamb, J., Dawson, S.I., Gagan, M.J., & Peddie, D. (2012). Cigarette smoking and the frequency of colposcopy visits, treatments and re-referral. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 29(1), 24-33.


Current research has confirmed that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for cervical cancer. Although more recently, there has been a slight decline in smoking rates, the relationship between tobacco use and cervical cancer remains clear. The development of research-based knowledge with which to inform the profession will assist practitioners to promote smoke-free practices for women and their families. The aim of this study was to identify whether female smokers referred to the colposcopy department at a city hospital required more follow-up visits, treatments and re-referrals than did non-smokers. This retrospective descriptive study observed new patients (n= 494) who attended a city hospital colposcopy department in 2001 over the following six years. When compared to non-smokers women who smoked were found to be three times more likely to need a third follow-up visit, and twice more likely to need further treatments to remove abnormalities. This study also identified that 71% of Mâori women attending the clinic were smokers compared to 44% of non-Mâori women. It was also found that Mâori women were less likely to attend the colposcopy clinic than were non- Mâori. This study highlights to health professionals and to the women who undergo colposcopy, that treatment is more likely to be successful for patients who cease smoking. The results have also supported the importance and relevance of smoke-free education to women. This allows the link to cervical abnormalities and smoking to be explained and smoking cessation assistance offered. This information also highlights the need for Mâori women, who are more likely to smoke and have higher rates of non-attendance for appointments, to have services provided that will encourage attendance and smoke-free behaviour.


Cervical cancer, colposcopy, cigarette smoking, ethnicity, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia


Subscribe for full access to Nursing Praxis