Public awareness and behaviour in Great Britain in the context of sunlight exposure and vitamin D: results from the first large-scale and representative survey

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In recent years, UK public health messages about the risks of sunlight exposure (skin cancer) have been increasingly balanced by messages about its benefits (vitamin D production). Currently, data about the effects of this shift on public knowledge, awareness, and behaviour are scant. Thus, the objective of this paper is to report the findings of the first large-scale and representative survey of the awareness, knowledge, and behaviour of adults in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) (n = 2024) with respect to sunlight exposure, vitamin D, and sunburn and skin cancer. The findings suggest that the public in Great Britain is much more aware of public promotion of the risks of sunlight exposure than its benefits. That said, knowledge about sunlight exposure and vitamin D is fairly strong, though not with respect to the detail of the ‘little and often’ approach. However, the survey also suggests that levels of sunlight exposure among the public are often excessive. The survey indicates that knowledge and behaviour are both less satisfactory among men and people in lower socio-economic groups. The paper concludes with recommendations for public health communications and for research in this area.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2020