What Sun Protection Practices Should Be Adopted by Trainee Teachers to Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer and Other Adverse Outcomes?

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Excessive sun exposure and insufficient protection are the main risk factors for the onset of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (the most common types of cancer suffered by fair-skinned populations) and other adverse effects on the skin and eyes. Epidemiological data highlight the scant awareness of this risk among young people and the high rates of sunburn often recorded among this population. The main aim of the present study is to examine sun exposure and protection behavior by university students. A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was undertaken to investigate sun exposure and protection practices among students of education sciences at a university in southern Spain. The data obtained were used to perform a descriptive, comparative analysis, by groups and by gender, of photoprotection and skin self-examination practices. The reliability and validity of the questionnaire were both tested. Of the 315 students who completed the questionnaire, 74.6% had suffered at least one sunburn during the previous year. Few made frequent use of sunscreen or protective clothing and 89.5% did not self-examine their skin. The metric properties of the questionnaire revealed its excellent reliability and validity. Among the Spanish university students considered, there was little awareness of the risk of excessive sun exposure, self-protection was insufficient, the potential exposure to dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation was high, and most had suffered one or more sunburns in the last year. Intervention strategies should be implemented to highlight the risks involved and the need for more appropriate sun protection practices. Information campaigns should be conducted in this respect so that, when these students become teachers, they will have adequate knowledge of the risks involved and of the benefits of addressing this problem effectively, and will ultimately transfer these health education competences to their own students.
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health sciences, photoexposure, photoprotection habits, skin cancer, university students