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Public (Skin) Health perspectives of gender differences in tanning habits and sun protective behaviour: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey

Public (Skin) Health Aspekte von geschlechtsspezifischen Unterschieden im Bräunungs- und Sonnenschutzverhalten: Ergebnisse einer Querschnittsuntersuchung

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Summary

Background

Life-style-associated exposure to sunlight is a contributory factor for acute and chronic skin damage including malign melanoma. The aim of the present study was to investigate the current gender-specific attitudes and motives regarding sun tanning and sunlight protective behaviour among Austrian residents.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, a convenient sample of 563 Austrian inhabitants participated in a self-reported questionnaire-based outdoor survey. We subjected the data obtained to statistical analysis to get insight into socio-demographic and sun risk behaviour-related inter-group differences (smoking habits as well as gender).

Results

The survey revealed significant gender differences in respect to sun protective behaviour and knowledge on adverse health effects of ultraviolet light exposure. Female participants achieved a higher knowledge score, showed higher risk awareness, and performed more sun protection (all p < 0.0001). Male participants were more likely to underestimate the dangers of unprotected sun exposure, consistently resulting in a higher frequency of reported sunburns in men (p = 0.005). Although smoking habits were gender-independent, smokers compared with non-smokers sun bathed more frequently with less sun protection (all p < 0.0001), and were less sportive (p = 0.035).

Conclusions

The study provides empirical data contributing to the development of novel approaches for target group and gender-specific Public (Skin) Health education programs and information materials. Revised strategies for improved skin health promotion and skin cancer prevention should focus on the benefits of sun light avoidance regarding long-term deterioration of physical appearance and attractiveness.

Zusammenfassung

Hintergrund

Lebensstilassoziierte Sonnenlichtexposition verursacht akute und chronische Hautschäden wie das maligne Melanom, die bösartigste Form von Hautkrebs. Trotz Informationskampagnen zur Förderung der Hautgesundheit steigen für diesen Hautkrebs in Österreich die Neuerkrankungsrate und die Sterblichkeit kontinuierlich und mit Unterschieden zwischen den Geschlechtern an. Das Ziel der vorliegenden Studie war daher die Erforschung der gegenwärtigen Einstellungen, Wissen und Motive in Bezug auf Bräunungsverhalten und Sonnenschutzverhalten von österreichischen Männer und Frauen.

Methode

Im Rahmen dieser im Freien durchgeführten Querschnittsuntersuchung beantwortete eine zufällig ausgewählte Personengruppe einen Selbstbeurteilungsfragebogen. Die statistische Auswertung der erhobenen Daten untersuchte geschlechtsspezifische Unterschiede für sozioökonomische Determinanten und Sonnenexpositionsverhalten.

Ergebnisse

Insgesamt nahmen 563 Personen an dieser Fragebogenuntersuchung teil. Die befragten Frauen hatten ein höheres Bewusstsein und mehr Wissen bezüglich Hautgesundheitsrisiko und schützten sich mehr vor Sonnenexposition (alle p < 0,0001). Im Unterschied dazu gingen Männer sorgloser mit Sonneneinstrahlung um und berichteten von einer höheren Anzahl an Sonnenbränden (p = 0,005). Die Rauchgewohnheiten zwischen den Geschlechtern unterschieden sich kaum, jedoch sonnten sich rauchende StudienteilnehmerInnen häufiger, benutzten unzureichenden Sonnenschutz (alle p < 0,0001) und trieben weniger Sport (p = 0,035).

Schlussfolgerung

Die Ergebnisse der vorliegenden Studie über die Risikowahrnehmung von UV-Lichtexposition können die Entwickelung neuer Ansätze für zielgruppenorientierte, geschlechtsspezifische Hautgesundheitsförderung vorantreiben. Verbesserte Strategien für Gesundheitsförderung und Krebsprävention sollten die Vorteile einer vernünftigen Sonnenexposition herausstreichen, besonders hinsichtlich längerfristiger Abnahme des Hautbeschaffenheit und der körperlichen Attraktivität.

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Acknowledgements

The authors like to thank L. Pauzenberger, A. Hofmann, I. Dolezal and G. Strasser for their contribution to data acquisition and processing.

Funding and competing interests

None declared.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no actual or potential conflicts of interest in relation to this article.

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Correspondence to Daniela Haluza MD.

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Haluza, D., Moshammer, H., Kundi, M. et al. Public (Skin) Health perspectives of gender differences in tanning habits and sun protective behaviour: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey. Wien Klin Wochenschr 127, 124–131 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-014-0643-0

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