Attitudes to sun protection
The effect of behaviour and beliefs on the effective use of
(Julie Barratt, Melanie Jenkins, Celvin Davies - Chartered
Institute of Environmental Health)
Exposure to ultra violet radiation is the principal cause of
skin cancer and much effort has been expended in educating the
general public about ways in which they can protect themselves
against over exposure to UV radiation through use of sunscreen.
Using a questionnaire this research sought to ascertain whether the
study group understood how sunscreen should be used and whether
those who claimed to use sunscreen did so in such a way as to
afford them the maximum protection.
Questions were also asked about the relative dangers of using
sunbeds as compared with that of being exposed to natural sunlight.
A sample of 202 adults attending an outdoor activities in South
Wales was interviewed.
The study shows that there is a high level of understanding of
the need for protection against over exposure to the sun but that
the practice of protection is poor, leading to a strong optimistic
bias in favour of the adequacy of protection, possibly creating
There is misunderstanding about the relative safety of "natural"
tans when compared to tans obtained using UV tanning equipment. We
recommend that health practitioners build on the existing
recognition of the need for protection and devise and promulgate
strong messages about the way in which protection should be managed
to avoid over exposure and the consequent elevated risk of
developing skin cancer.