University of Limerick
Sheikhi_2023_Impact.pdf (646.02 kB)

The impact of a novel digital sun protection campaign on sun‐related attitudes and behaviours of healthcare workers: A prospective observational study

Download (646.02 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-15, 08:09 authored by Emma Porter, Siobhan Rafferty, Michelle Dolan, David McMahon, Ali SheikhiAli Sheikhi, Sinead Field, Evelyn Power

Background: 13 000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in Ireland, with ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure the strongest risk factor. Public health primary prevention campaigns focus on encouraging safe sun protective measures and skin cancer awareness. We designed a novel, digitally‐animated hospital‐based campaign targeting all aspects of sun‐ protective behaviour. Objectives: To explore the sun‐protective attitudes and behaviours of healthcare workers, and the effect of a digital hospital‐based campaign on these findings. Methods: This was a cross‐sectional prospective observational study involving hospital staff across the six hospitals that form the University of Limerick Hospital Group (ULHG). A two‐phase online survey, the first taking place before campaign launch, and the second upon campaign completion. The digital campaign was displayed across all hospital sites from June to September 2021. Surveys comprised questions on sun‐related attitudes and behaviours, including the internationally validated Sun Exposure Pro?tection Index (SEPI) questionnaire. Results: Eight hundred fifty‐seven staff members completed survey 1 and 704 completed survey 2; 90% in each were female; 79% were aged 25–54; 71% reported skin types I–III. Best sun‐protective habits pre‐campaign included sunscreen use and avoiding sunburn, while wearing hats, pro?tective clothing and seeking shade were least adopted. For 177 matched participants, there were small improvements in SEPI scores. SEPI Part 1 scores, reflecting improved risk behaviour, pre‐campaign had a median of 11 (IQR 7), and 11 (IQR 6) post campaign. SEPI Part 2 scores, reflecting readiness to adopt sun‐protective behaviours, improved from median 7 (IQR 8) to 6 (IQR 6). Post‐campaign, small improvements were seen across some individual sun‐protective behaviours and attitudes, particularly reducing time spent in the midday sun and on sun‐seeking holidays, and improved readiness to seek shade and reduce sunbathing; 79% of all respondents post‐campaign (n = 556) reported raised skin cancer awareness, and 65% (n = 458) said it influenced them to discuss sun protection with others.  Conclusions: Positive improvements in attitudes and behaviours related to sun protection were seen following the digital campaign in this population of healthcare workers. These improvements along with increased willingness to discuss sun protection with others, including patients, has the potential to further benefit wider society, and supports future digital health promotion initiatives. 





Skin Health and Disease e256


John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Other Funding information

Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Unit, Health Service Executive; National Cancer Control Programme

Also affiliated with

  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

Department or School

  • Allied Health

Usage metrics

    University of Limerick



    Ref. manager