Awareness of sunburn in childhood, use of sunbeds and change of moles in Denmark, Northern Ireland, Norway and Sweden

Senada Hajdarevic, Line Hvidberg, Yulan Lin, Conan Donnelly, Anna Gavin, Magdalena Lagerlund, Anette F Pedersen, Birgit H Rasmussen, Sara Runesdotter, Peter Vedsted, Carol Tishelman

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Background: Malignant melanoma (MM) is increasing rapidly in Northern Europe. To reduce incidence and mortality through earlier diagnosis, public awareness of MM is important. Thus, we aim to examine awareness of risk factors and a symptom of MM, and how awareness varies by country and socio-demographic factors in Denmark, Northern Ireland (NI), Norway and Sweden.

Methods: Population-based telephone interviews using the ‘Awareness and Beliefs about Cancer’ measure were conducted in 2011 among 8355 adults ≥50 years as part of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership Module 2. Prevalence ratios (PRs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

Results: In these four countries, lowest awareness was found for ‘sunburn in childhood’ (63%), whereas awareness was high for ‘use of sunbeds’ (91%) and ‘mole change’ (97%). Lack of awareness of ‘sunburn in childhood’ was more prevalent among respondents from Norway [PR = 1.38 (1.28–1.48)] but less prevalent among respondents from Northern Ireland (NI) [PR = 0.78 (0.72–0.85)] and Sweden [PR = 0.86 (0.79–0.93)] compared with respondents from Denmark. Lack of awareness of ‘use of sunbeds’ was more prevalent among respondents from Norway [PR = 2.99 (2.39–3.74)], Sweden [PR = 1.57 (1.22–2.00)], and NI [PR = 1.65 (1.30–2.10)] compared with respondents form Denmark. Being a man, age ≥70, living alone, and having lower education, were each independently associated with lack of MM-awareness.

Conclusions: The results indicate relatively low awareness of ‘sunburn in childhood’ as a risk factor for MM, and important disparities in MM-awareness across countries and socio-demographic groups. Improved and more directed initiatives to enhance public MM-awareness, particularly about ‘sunburn in childhood’, are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2016

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