Getting the message across: sun protection information in media weather reports in New Zealand

N Z Med J. 2001 Feb 23;114(1126):67-70.


Aims: To assess the public reach, awareness, understanding and response to the burn time and the Ultra Violet Index (UVI) in media weather reports in New Zealand.

Methods: Data from a representative sample (n = 396), ages 16-44 years, were gathered over four consecutive summer weeks of 1999 via a random digit dialling telephone survey. Items collected included sources of weather reports and their frequency of use; knowledge, understanding, perception and use of the burn time and the UVI; sun-related beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.

Results: Exposure to weekend weather bulletins was sustained, and occurred mainly via television (83%) and radio (50%). There was greater awareness of the burn time than the more recent UVI (89% vs 43%). The UVI was less often used to guide sun protection actions (49% vs 63%) but better understood (94% vs 66%) and more often recalled along with sun protective messages (56% vs 32%) than the burn time. Few could describe the burn time or the UVI for the past Sunday. Self-perceived understanding of the burn time was higher than its measured, sub-optimal, comprehension (96% vs 65%).

Conclusions: Further efforts are needed to promote the UVI, particularly on TV1 and on radio, and to reach younger adults and less educated groups. For a transition period, presentation of the burn time should be restricted to complementing the UVI. Thereafter, the UVI should become the standard indicator of UV level in New Zealand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control*
  • New Zealand
  • Radio*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Television*


  • Sunscreening Agents