Globally, cervical cancer is a fourth most common types of cancer affecting women. There were an estimated 2,716 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of cervical cancer in the world. About 527,624 women had confirmed cervical cancer among which 265,672 die from the disease every year. Eighty seven percent of all deaths from cervical cancer occur in sub-Sahara countries . Evidently, Ethiopia is one of the African countries with high prevalence of cervical cancer cases with about 27.19 million women who are at risk of developing cervical cancer . In Ethiopian, about 4,732 women die from the disease every year . Despite its public health importance in Ethiopia, there was only less than 1% of age eligible women received cervical cancer screening (CCS) services .
Development of explicit interventions to changing behaviors of public health importance like cervical cancers screening behaviors, requires the application of effective theory that produce adequate prediction and explanation of these behaviors with all available internal and external factors to the theory [5, 6]. One of the most widely used and parsimonious model used for prediction of behavioral intentions and behavioral outcomes is the theory of planned (TPB) [7, 8]. The theory postulates that the best and immediate predictor of a behavior is behavioral intention. This will in turn determined by attitude toward the behavior, subjective norms (SN) regarding the behavior and perceived behavioral control (PBC) of performing the behavior under consideration.
These are called constructs of TPB . These constructs have been found to account for variances in behavioral intention in statistical modeling. The amount of variance in behavioral intention explained by all of these constructs indicates the predictive ability of the theory. To this regard, study has indicated a rule of thumb in which an effective theory tend to explain variance in intention by more than 50% for it to be readily translated into practice; provided the target behavior is under the volitional control of the individuals .
Plenty of meta-analytic studies have conducted so far to reviewing the predictive power of the TPB as applied to health behaviors demonstrating that the theory has effectively predicted the behavioral intention with variance ranging from 44%-53% [10, 11, 13]. Recent meta-analytic review of TPB studies have reported 39%-50% of variance in behavioral intentions to health related behaviors was explained by the theory [12, 14]
Few studies which have been conducted in Ethiopian applying the theory reported conflicting results about the predictions of intention, 27% , 27%  and 55%  with SN being more important predictors than attitude and PBC respectively. Importantly; TPB has been found to be effective in predicting the intended cancer screening behaviors such screening for breast and colorectal cancers. More specifically; the theory has produced an effective prediction of cervical cancer screening (CCS) behavioral intention with variances ranging from 27.6%-51% in different previous studies [18, 19].
However, the SN construct is generally found to be a weak predictor of intentions in these studies. It has also been indicated in meta analysis of TPB based studies of screening behaviors like breast, testicular self-examination and cervical screening showed 44% of variance in behavioral intention across all studies was accounted for by constructs of TPB, attitude, SN and PBC, with attitude and SN being the strongest and least predictor of intention respectively .
Interestingly, the preliminary finding part of the current study which was published elsewhere  also indicated that the individuals’ intention to use CCS was a function of attitude; subjective norms and perceived behavioral control with perceived behavioral control and attitude towards screening were found to be the strongest and least predictors of behavioral intention respectively. More importantly, the past behavior experience (PBE) to CCS use which was treated together with the socio-demographic factors in the regression analysis; was significantly and positively associated to behavioral intention despite none of the socio-demographic variables were associated to intention. The raises a question’ “what is the role of PBE in TPB in predicting behavioral intention, given that the effects of socio-demographic variables and constructs of TPB are all controlled?”
Notably; the influence of past behavior experience (PBE) on behavioral intention or future behavior has attracted considerable attention. The past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior when a set of factors affecting the behavior under consideration remained unchanged over time. If all factors (whether internal to the individual or external) that determine a given behavior are known and accounted for; then addition of PBE to the model should not significantly improve the prediction of later behavior and vice versa. In this case; a measure of PBE can be used to test the sufficiency of any model designed to predict future behavior .
Within the TPB; the influence of PBE on future behavior is either through its indirect influence on intention or its influence on underlying beliefs about the target behavior. It has been indicated that effects of PBE on prediction by TPB should be mediated by PBC; as repetition of behavior should lead to enhanced perceptions of control of individuals [10, 21]. The contribution of PBE to the predictions of intentions and behavior is seen after taking into account the TPB variables; despite this prediction was found to be considerably small . For instance; a review of 12 TPB studies showed that after taking account of attitude, SN and PBC; PBE explained an average 7.2% of the variance in intentions . More interestingly; Conner et’al (2005) explained in their commentary on how external factors influence intention or behavior as “the model is held to be a complete theory of behavior in that any other influences on behavior are held to have their impact upon behavior via influencing components of the TPB” .
To the best our knowledge; there is/are no evidence that examined the role of PBE and predictive utility of TPB to intended use of cervical cancer screening services among Ethiopian women in resources scarce settings. Therefore; this current study was conducted to answer two research questions. 1) To what extent does the TPB predict the intention to use of cervical cancer screening services? 2) What is the effect of PBE of using cervical cancer screening services on behavioral intention?