Skin cancer accounts for up to 80% of total cancer cases in New Zealand.1 Each year, there are over 2,000 incident cases and 350 deaths from melanoma,2 and over 90,000…
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Our study used wearable cameras to explore sun protection and shade availability in New Zealand’s outdoor recreation spaces at times when sun protection was warranted. Children wore the devices, which captured images of 2,635 people in 16 outdoor recreation spaces (beaches, playgrounds and pools). We assessed the clothing worn and shade used by each person, as well as the amount of shade available in each setting. Only 4.3% of the people observed wore sun-protective hats and only 10.7% were under shade. New Zealand has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Our findings highlight the need to encourage sun safety behaviours and increase opportunities for shade in outdoor recreation settings.
We aimed to investigate sun protection behaviours and shade availability in outdoor recreation spaces using images captured by children who, in 2014/15, wore wearable cameras for four consecutive days.
The 168 participants visited 16 outdoor recreation spaces between 10am and 4pm, capturing 378 images, on average, in each setting. People observed in the images (n=2,635) were coded for age, sex, clothing worn (38 clothing types) and shade used. Mean temperature and ultraviolet index (UVI) values were linked with the time-stamped and geo-referenced images.
The UVI in most settings was high enough to warrant sun protection, but only 4.3% of people wore sun-protective hats (broad-brim, bucket and legionnaire styles) and 10.7% used shade. Areas most popular with children, including playground equipment, beach sand and pool areas, had little or no shade available.
Despite New Zealand having the highest incidence of melanoma skin cancer in the world, the results indicate that few New Zealanders wear hats and seek shade in outdoor recreation settings. The findings highlight the need to improve policy and environmental support for skin cancer prevention activities.