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Building awareness of the health risks of sunbed use: identification of target groups for prevention

Authors

  • Katharina Diehl,

    Corresponding author
    1. Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine (MIPH), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
    • Correspondence:

      Dr Katharina Diehl, Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine (MIPH), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Ludolf-Krehl-Straße 7-11, 68167 Mannheim, Germany.

      Tel: +49 621 383 9602

      Fax: +49 621 383 9920

      e-mail: Katharina.Diehl@medma.uni-heidelberg.de

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  • Christina Bock,

    1. Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine (MIPH), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Eckhard W. Breitbart,

    1. Association of Dermatological Prevention (ADP), Hamburg, Germany
    2. Dermatology Center, Elbeklinikum Buxtehude, Germany
    3. European Society of Skin Cancer Prevention EUROSKIN, Buxtehude, Germany
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  • Rüdiger Greinert,

    1. Association of Dermatological Prevention (ADP), Hamburg, Germany
    2. Dermatology Center, Elbeklinikum Buxtehude, Germany
    3. European Society of Skin Cancer Prevention EUROSKIN, Buxtehude, Germany
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  • Sven Schneider

    1. Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine (MIPH), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Conflicts of interest:

    None declared.

Summary

Purpose

Sunbed use, a recognized risk factor for skin cancer development, is common in developed countries. Cost-efficient interventions to reduce the negative health consequences of sunbed use are needed. As a first step to identify what kind of intervention might be useful, we aimed to assess the awareness of potential health risks of sunbed use in current, former, and never users as well as in current users with differing risk profiles.

Methods

We assessed risk awareness using items addressing the potential health risks of sunbed use (e.g. skin damage) in a representative sample of 4851 individuals. The response format assessed agreement with each statement. Risk profiles were defined by a large number of birthmarks, a history of frequent childhood sunburn, or a (family) history of melanoma.

Results

Many individuals were not aware of potential risks (e.g. agreement to skin cancer risk 72.6%). Current users were less aware compared with former and never users [e.g. skin cancer risk (65.6% vs. 75.9% and 73.0%, respectively; P < 0.001]). Among current users, those with at least two risk factors showed the highest proportion of risk aware individuals.

Conclusion

Low risk awareness among current users suggests the need for targeted interventions to reduce or discontinue sunbed use.

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