Background: College athletes participating in outdoor sports are a population with extensive exposure to ultraviolet radiation during the peak hours of the day. These relatively young athletes could represent a group with alterable habits.
Objective: We sought to assess the level of sunscreen use in college athletes who are at high risk for ultraviolet radiation exposure.
Methods: An anonymous survey was administered to NCAA soccer and cross-country teams at 4 universities. Answers were analyzed for proportions of sunscreen use and associations among various host variables.
Results: Of the surveyed athletes, 85% reported no sunscreen use in the previous 7 days and only 6% reported sunscreen use at least 3 of the previous 7 days.
Limitations: The subject population is limited to one geographic area and includes athletes from only two sports.
Conclusions: These results identify a need for improved primary prevention of ultraviolet damage among the more than 250,000 NCAA athletes participating in outdoor sports. A preventive program involving education, provision of readily available sunscreen, and coach participation is needed to target these individuals.