Background: Reducing people's exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the primary strategy for skin cancer prevention.
Objective: We sought to provide comprehensive national data on preventive behaviors and risk assessment for Australia.
Methods: A national survey was conducted in summer 2003-2004. In 8 weekly cross-sectional surveys, adults and adolescents were interviewed about their sun protection and sunburn on the previous summer weekend. Adjustments were made for specific weather and ultraviolet radiation conditions relevant to time and location.
Results: Adolescents were relatively homogeneous in their low compliance with sun protection (significantly less use of hats, covering clothing, shade, and sunglasses than adults) on weekends, and consequently were more likely to be sunburned than adults (25% compared with 18%; odds ratio=1.80, P<.001). Temperature was a significant predictor of sun-protective behaviors and a strong determinant of sunburn, as was ultraviolet radiation for adults' sunburn. Using shade, spending less time outdoors, and, for adults, wearing clothing covering were associated with reduced odds of sunburn.
Limitations: The study relied on self-reported behaviors and sunburn.
Conclusions: Further improvement in Australians' sun-protective behaviors is needed.