Self-reported sun protection strategies among Australian surfers: are they heeding the message?

Document Type


Publication details

Meir, RA, Zhou, S, Rolfe, MI, Gilleard, WL & Coutts, RA 2015, 'Self-reported sun protection strategies among Australian surfers: are they heeding the message?', Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 50-55.

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To establish the current sun protection strategies of Australian surfers and the incidence of medically diagnosed skin cancer in the 12 month period preceding data collection.

Study Design

Diagnosed skin cancer and skin lesions were recorded via online questionnaire. Participants: 685 self-selected surfers (mean 31.7 ±12.9 yr) participated in this research.


This research involved a retrospective survey of self-selected surfers completing an online survey that had specific questions related to sun protection strategies while surfing and whether respondents had been treated by a medical practitioner for a skin cancer or lesion and the site on the body where this was located.


19.1% of respondents reported “never” using sunscreen/zinc on any sun exposed areas of the skin during the summer months with this figure rising to 46.8% in the winter months. Less than 4% reported wearing a surf cap in summer or winter. A total of 224 separate skin cancers/lesions were reported. 50% of all reported skin cancers/lesions were identified on the upper body with the face being the most common location overall (21.9%). This equates to a mean rate of occurrence of 9.1 skin cancers/lesions per 1000 hours surfed.


In spite of the significant investment and effort devoted to promoting appropriate forms of sun protection, survey responses indicate that surfers do not appear to be embracing the public health strategies related to sun protection.

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