• Open Access

Sun exposure and sun protection behaviours among young adult sport competitors


Correspondence to: Ms Sheleigh Lawler, Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, level 3, Public Health Building, University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4006. Fax: (07) 3365 5540; e-mail: s.lawler@uq.edu.au


Objective: To explore the relationship between sun protection and physical activity in young adults (18-30 years) involved in four organised sports.

Methods: Participants (n=237) in field hockey, soccer, tennis and surf sports completed a self-administered survey on demographic and sun-protective behaviours while playing sport. Differences in sun-protective behaviour were explored by sport and by gender.

Results: Sunburn during the previous sporting season was high (69%). There were differences between sports for sunburn, sunscreen use and reapplication of sunscreen. Lifesaving had the highest rates compared with the other three sports. Hats and sunglasses worn by participants varied significantly by sports. A greater proportion of soccer and hockey players indicated they were not allowed to wear a hat or sunglasses during competition. For all sports, competition was played mainly in the open with no shade provision for competitors while they were playing. There were some gender differences within each of the sports. Female soccer and tennis players were more likely to wear sunscreen compared with males. Female hockey players were more likely to wear a hat compared with males.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight that there is still room for improvement in sun-protective behaviours among young adult sport competitors. There is a need for a systematic approach to sun protection in the sporting environments of young adults.

Implications: Health promotion efforts to increase physical activity need to be paired with sun protection messages.