Sunscreen use and skin protection behaviour on the Belgian beach: a comparison 9 years later

Steven De Vos, J. Van Der Endt, Walter Broeckx, M. Vandaele, Veronique Delmarmol, Diane Roseeuw, T. Maselis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Public health campaigns encourage people to protect themselves against skin cancer by using sunscreens and taking other protective measures. The objective is to estimate the impact of these campaigns on the rise of awareness among the general public. This study explores the prevalence and predictors of solar protection behaviour in a sample of beachgoers and compares these results to another similar study carried out 9 years earlier (i.e. summer 2001). During the month of August 2010, a total of 408 participants (144 men and 264 women) were randomly selected on their way to the Belgian beach in the city of Ostend, Belgium. The solar protection behaviour of each participant was assessed by direct observation and an interview. The exact same questions were asked as in 2001. The general risk awareness stays the same for skin aging and skin cancer but gets higher for sunburn. When we control these results for sex, the overall higher general awareness is completely because of the higher awareness of the female subgroup. As in 2001, risk awareness is considerably higher in the female subgroup than in the male one. As in 2001, sunscreen cream was the most popular preventive behaviour in 2010 (use of sunscreen with sun protection factor 15 or higher reported by 66.4%), followed by timed sun exposure (46.8%), use of clothing and hats (36.8%) and shade (34.1%). As in summer 2001 the sunscreen use is more popular in the female population. The use of protective clothing and hats is more popular in the male group. As solar protection has become part of the beach behaviour routine, there is room for improvement for their more frequent application, the use of a higher sun protection factor (15+), timed sunbathing, more use of clothing and hats and seeking shade. The results of this study can assist in evaluating the effectiveness of present sun-protection campaigns and health education programmes. European Journal of Cancer Prevention 21:474-477 (C) 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health vertical bar Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-477
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Prevention
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • beach survey
  • Belgium
  • comparison
  • melanoma
  • sun exposure
  • sunscreen use


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