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Assessing sun protection behaviors among U.S. Hispanic outdoor workers

A new study from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey suggests the sunburn and sun protection habits among male U.S. Hispanic outdoor workers are not adequate, and that more education to improve these sun protection behaviours is needed.

The group, led by Carolyn J. Heckman, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers, studied a sample of 175 male, Hispanic day labourers in the U.S. Northeast. According to the investigators, 54.9% of the study participants had experienced one or more sunburns when working during the past summer, and 62.9% reported having one or more symptoms of heat illness. Their report was published in the online edition of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (DOI: 10.3390/ijerph19052524).

They determined that the use and frequency of sun protection behaviours was suboptimal in this group, based on a 5-point scale (1=never; 5=always) The researchers analyzed such behaviours as utilization of sunglasses (M=2.68, SD=1.71), staying in the shade (M=2.30, SD=0.94), wearing sunscreen (M=2.10, SD=1.39), and wearing a wide-brimmed hat (M=1.75, SD=1.32).

The authors reported that “Lower education level, higher levels of skin sensitivity to the sun, any symptom of heat illness, fewer barriers to wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and not wearing a wide-brimmed hat were associated with a greater number of sunburns.”

They emphasized that the results of the study highlight the need for, and potential development of, interventions to promote sun protection behaviours among male Hispanic outdoor day labourers.

The authors noted that the wide variety of outdoor occupations can result in different UV exposures across work types and settings (construction vs. gardening, for example). They say future studies should assess the differences in UV exposure between these different kinds of outdoor occupations.


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