Non-communicable chronic diseases cause the major part of the disease burden and have great economic impact, especially in countries with advanced economies. Behavioural risk factors play an important role in their development.
To plan, implement and evaluate preventive interventions on chronic diseases, timely information are needed not only on health status and behaviours of the population, but also on their knowledge and perceptions about healthy habits and lifestyle.
The Italian Ministry of Health in 2007 approved the program “Guadagnare salute - rendere facili le scelte salutari”, that envisages strategic actions to contrast the most important behavioral risk factors, in the context of the European strategy to tackle chronic diseases (Gaining Health). In 2006, the Italian Ministry of Health funded the National Health Institute (ISS) to develop ongoing surveillance in adults of major behavioural risk factors and of preventive measures included in the National Prevention Plan. The project was named Passi (Progressi delle Aziende Sanitarie per la Salute in Italia - Progress by local health units towards a healthier Italy).
Since in Italy most public health interventions are planned and verified at local level, in PASSI Regions and local health units are directly involved in the surveillance, with the supervision of a national coordinating group, that comprises experts of the ISS and of the Regions. The system started in 2007 to provide surveillance of the health status of Italian population, through the systematic and continuous collection of data about the lifestyles of adults (18-69 years) and the implementation of preventive interventions that Regions and local health units are activating.