Trends in sun protection behaviours

From Skin Cancer Statistics and Issues
Skin Cancer Stats & Issues > Trends in sun protection behaviours

The findings from five national surveys during summers between 2003-04 and 2016-17 show that sun protection compliance while outdoors on the weekend during peak UV radiation hours was relatively low in most cases (Tables 1 & 2). Australian adolescents were less compliant than adults.

In 2016/17, only 10% of adolescents wore a ¾ or long sleeved top, 38% applied SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and/or wore a hat, 23% sought shade and 21% wore sunglasses. However, in 2016/17 teenagers were more likely to use three or more forms of sun protection compared to 2013/14.[1]

Table 1 Trends in adolescents’ weekend sun protection behaviours and sunburn [2]

Adolescents (12 – 17), n= 4,673 2003-04 2006-07 2010-11 2013-14 2016-17 Significant changes in 2016-17 %
Respondents outdoors > 15 minutes 80% 82% 77% 78% 77% No change
Time spent outdoors (minutes) 110 111 112 112 102 ↓since 2003-4 & 2013-17
Hat used 38% 29% 23% 27 38 ↑ since 2003-04 & 2013-17
Sunscreen used (at least SPF15+) 37% 37% 37% 41 40 no change
¾ or long sleeved top worn 11% 9% 11% 8% 10% no change
¾ or long leg cover worn 37% 30% 28% 25% 21% ↓ since 2003-04
Sunglasses 23% 24% 24% 25% 21% ↓since 2003-04 & 2013-17
Stayed mostly in the shade 19% 20% 21% 22% 23% ↑ since 2003-04
Two or more sun protective behaviours 29% 22% 24% 28% 33% ↑ since 2013-14
Weekend sunburn 25% 24% 21% 23% 26% No change


Table 2 Trends in adults’ weekend sun protection behaviours and sunburn[2]

Adults (18 – 69), n= 24,472 2003-04 2006-07 2010-11 2013-14 2016-17 Significant changes in 2016-17 %
Respondents outdoors > 15 minutes 73% 67% 66% 70% 67% ↓ since 2003-04
Time spent outdoors (minutes) 118 116 111 116 108 ↓ since 2003-04
Hat used 48% 50% 45% 44% 49% no change
Sunscreen used (at least SPF15+) 33% 37% 36% 37% 42% ↑ since 2003-04 and 2013-14
¾ or long sleeved top worn 18% 19% 19% 19% 17% ↓since 2003-04 and 2013-14
¾ or long leg cover worn 46% 44% 44% 39% 36% ↓since 2003-04 and 2013-14
Sunglasses 55% 58% 57% 61% 61% no change
Stayed mostly in the shade 27% 27% 28% 28% 26% no change
Two or more sun protective behaviours 32% 32% 44% 43% 47% ↑ since 2003-04
Weekend sunburn 18% 14% 13% 15 17 ↓ since 2003-04*

* Model includes respondents indoors and outdoors and adjusts for UV

A nationally representative survey of Australian adults’ sun protection in January 2019 found the following behaviours among those outdoors on the previous summer weekend:

Table 3 Adults’ weekend sun protection behaviours and sunburn in 2019[3]

Adults, n= 1531 Wide-brimmed hat Any other hat or cap Sunglasses Sunscreen (SPF30) ¾ or long-sleeved top ¾ or long leg cover No sun protection used Weekend sunburn
27% 22% 57% 37% 26% 29% 12% 21%

References

  1. Cancer Council Australia. Half a million Australian teenagers sunburnt on summer weekends. Media release. Sydney, Australia; 2019 Nov 17 Available from: https://www.cancer.org.au/news/media-releases/half-a-million-australian-teenagers-sunburnt-on-summer-weekends.html.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tabbakh T, Dobbinson S. 2016-17 National Sun Protection Survey: Report 2 Sun protective behaviours and sunburn incidence on weekends among Australians in summer 2016-17. Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council of Victoria; 2018.
  3. Social Research Centre. Summer Sun Protection Survey 2019 Topline Report. Melbourne, Australia: Social Research Centre, Prepared for Cancer Council Victoria and Cancer Council New South Wales; 2019 (unpublished).; 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 12].

Back to top