Factors associated with sun protection compliance: results from a nationwide cross-sectional evaluation of 2215 patients from a dermatological consultation*

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Campaigns designed to promote sun protection often fail to induce long-term changes in behaviour. There is limited information on patients with low compliance to sun protection recommendations from dermatologists.


To characterize dermatology patients at higher risk of low compliance to sun protection measures, and to investigate the relationship between sun protection behaviour, knowledge about accurate sun protection recommendations, ultraviolet (UV)-associated risks and level of UV exposure.


An anonymous self-administered multiple-choice questionnaire was distributed by dermatologists to patients receiving a sunscreen prescription. Four domains were explored: sun protection behaviour, sun protection knowledge, level of UV exposure and knowledge about UV-associated risks. We modelled sun protection behaviour and determined factors associated with low compliance to sun protection measures.


In total 2215 questionnaires were analysed. Patients stratified by risk who better complied with sun protection measures had a better knowledge of UV-associated risks (mean score 14·45 ± 3·20 vs. 12·75 ± 3·29 and 11·20 ± 3·80, P < 0·0001) and sun protection measures (mean score 12·08 ± 2·79 vs. 10·68 ± 3·11 and 9·00 ± 3·63, P < 0·0001). Patients who better complied with sun protection measures also reported higher levels of sun exposure (mean score 4·24 ± 2·26 vs. 4·02 ± 2·05 and 3·34 ± 2·14, P < 0·0001). Factors associated with low adherence to sun protection behaviour were age below 20 or over 64 years, male sex, lower knowledge about accurate sun protection recommendations and UV-associated risks, and low UV exposure.


This study shows the complex relationship between UV exposure, knowledge about UV-associated risks, and knowledge about sun protection recommendations and behaviour. Future skin cancer prevention programmes should focus on specific populations with low sun protection behaviour and high UV exposure.


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