Awareness and education
Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun or from artificial sources (e.g. indoor tanning), can increase the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancers cases (with both melanoma and non-melanoma types combined) is thought to comprise approximately 33% of all cancers in Alberta.1 Taking measures to protect you and your family from the sun year-round will help to prevent the dangerous long-term effects of UVR exposure, such as skin cancer, as well as the short-term effects such as a sunburn.2
Community healthy champions in Fort MacLeod identified sun safety as a priority. The goal was to increase awareness of UVR exposure risk among patrons, in particular, students and families, of outdoor community spaces, and the pool. They did this by designing signs, developing resources and distributing sunscreen at key locations.
Ways to get started
- Develop a community-wide campaign or various education opportunities on sun safety through collaboration with interested groups (e.g. teachers, parents, students, families, youth and older adults).
- Create or use existing materials such as posters and brochures to support sun-safety messages. Place them in strategic locations, such as posters near sunscreen dispensers and shade structures. The Alberta Health Services’ Public Health and Health Promotion departments have sun safety resources and materials available.
- Align your safety and education messages with existing popular events, particularly those that happen in open space with direct sun exposure (e.g. parks).
- Use multiple media (e.g. signage, local media, newsletter inserts, social media) to promote your message.3-5
- Set up awareness /educational booths at local community events together with other interested groups. You can handout informational materials, have fun activities for children, and/or provide sunscreen.
- Research where to acquire a device for Ultraviolet (UV) photography, which instantaneously shows a person’s cumulative skin damage as a picture.4 Set up opportunities at events or at settings like school and workplaces to use it.
- Consider seasonal timing of your message for maximum impact (e.g. during the spring and summer holiday season).5
- Ensure facilities with artificial tanning follow the Skin Cancer Prevention (Artificial Tanning) Act and Regulation 2018. The Act helps Albertans know about the health risks of UV artificial tanning to support an informed decision.
- Keep in mind aspects that increase reach and inclusion of your messages. Flexible timing and a convenient, accessible location for your sun-safety education sessions may increase participation. Be respectful of cultural, religious and societal attitudes about sun safety and exposure in planning your sun-safety education sessions.5
Amplify your impact
Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:
- What you expect to learn or change
- What you measure and report
- How to measure impact
What you expect to learn about awareness and education may include:
- Learning that the strategy was implemented as planned
- Learning that the strategy is reaching those you want to reach
- Increased number of warning signage in locations with indoor tanning
- Intent to share knowledge
References- UV Safety and Education
- Alberta Health Services. Alberta’s Skin Cancer Prevention Framework; 2018. Available from: https://www.healthiertogether.ca/media/uploads/documents/pdfs/parisc_framework_final.pdf.
- Healthier Together Alberta Health Services. Have fun in the sun safely toolkit; 2019. https://www.healthiertogether.ca/living-healthy/limit-uv-rays/have-fun-in-the-sun-safely-toolkit/
- Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. Preventing skin cancer: multicomponent community-wide interventions. The Community Guide. Atlanta (GA): CDC; 2012. Available from: https://www.thecommunityguide.org/findings/skin-cancer-multicomponent-community-wide-interventions.
- National Guideline Clearinghouse. Prevention of skin cancer. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); 2013. Available from: https://www.guideline.gov/summaries/summary/48130.
- National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE). Sunlight exposure: risks and benefits. NICE Guideline. London: NICE; 2016. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng34.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Artificial tanning sunbeds risks and guidance. Geneva (SW): WHO; 2003. Available from: http://www.who.int/uv/publications/en/sunbeds.pdf.
- World Health Organization (WHO). EUROSKIN recommendations on sunbed use. Geneva (SW): WHO; 2000. Available from: http://www.who.int/uv/resources/en/recsunbed.pdf.