The social acceptability of handheld umbrellas for sun protection


  • Conflicts of interest:

    None declared.



Little is known about handheld umbrella (HU) use for sun protection in the United States. We sought to determine whether women consider the HU a socially acceptable form of sun protection and whether viewing pictures of famous women carrying umbrellas is influential.


This is a cross-sectional survey study of 382 women. Participants viewed a collage of famous women carrying umbrellas to assess effect on social acceptability.


Twelve percent had used a HU for sun protection. Participants were more likely to use an umbrella after viewing the collage (P < 0.001). The majority would consider umbrella use if recommended by a dermatologist. Independent predictors of social acceptability were age, had not lived in another country, sun protective clothing use and no sunscreen use, while skin color, ethnicity and education were not. Mean rating of social acceptability was an intermediate score of 5.41 (1 = not acceptable, 10 = totally acceptable) and increased to 5.88 postcollage (P < 0.001).


Social acceptability of HUs was moderate. Popular media may play a role in whether women view HUs as a socially acceptable form of sun protection. Dermatologists may consider recommending HUs as an adjunct but not replacement for other methods of sun protection.