Trends in Australian adolescents' sun-protection behaviours: Implications for health campaigns
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Objective: Protecting the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is critical during adolescence to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer later in life, but adolescents tend to be less likely to engage in sun-protective behaviours than adults. The present study examined changes and trends (2001/02-2011/12) in sun-protection behaviours among adolescents living in Western Australia - a region with high levels of UV radiation. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted during 10 summers between 2001/02 and 2011/12 to investigate how often adolescents engaged in various sun-protection behaviours, including outdoor protective measures (wearing a hat, wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, wearing sunglasses, seeking shade) and avoidance of UV radiation by staying inside. Results: Hat use significantly decreased between 2001/02 and 2011/12, whereas use of sunscreen and wearing covering clothes were unchanged in most survey years relative to 2001/02. Use of sunglasses peaked in 2006/07 and 2007/08, but returned to first survey year levels in 2011/12, while staying inside was more frequently reported from 2006/07 onwards. Conclusions: New approaches are needed to minimise reactance responses in adolescents while fostering favourable attitudes to sun protection. Implications and opportunities for interventions to promote better sun-protection practices among adolescents are provided.
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