A pilot study of the validity of self-reported ultraviolet radiation exposure and sun protection practices among lifeguards, parents and children

Photochem Photobiol. May-Jun 2008;84(3):774-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2007.00262.x. Epub 2008 Jan 7.


Outdoor recreation settings, such as swimming pools, provide a promising venue to assess UVR exposure and sun protection practices among individuals who are minimally clothed and exposed to potentially high levels of UVR. Most studies assessing sun exposure/protection practices rely on self-reported data, which are subject to bias. The aim of this study was to establish the feasibility of conducting a multimethod study to examine the validity of self-reported measures within a swimming pool setting. Data were collected from 27 lifeguards, children and parents in Hawaii. Each participant filled out a survey and a 4 day sun habits diary. On two occasions, researchers assessed observable sun protection behaviors (wearing hats, shirts, sunglasses), swabbed the skin to detect the presence of sunscreen, and subjects wore polysulphone dosimeters to measure UVR exposure. Overall, observed sun protection behaviors were more highly correlated with diary reports than with survey reports. While lifeguards and children reported spending comparable amounts of time in the sun, dosimeter measures showed that lifeguards received twice as much UVR exposure. This study demonstrated the feasibility of implementing a multimethod validity study within a broader population of swimming pools.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Film Dosimetry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sunburn / etiology
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Swimming*
  • Ultraviolet Rays* / adverse effects


  • Sunscreening Agents