Occupational exposure: rural Australian farmers’ sun-protective behaviours

Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Public Health (Germany), 2020, 28, (6), pp. 675-684
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© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Aim: Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. Farmers are a high-risk population due to mainly outdoor work and subsequent overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). The aim of this study was to evaluate farmers’ and farm workers’ personal sun-protection behaviours and their perception of the importance of sun protection. Subjects and methods: Farmers and farm workers (n = 243) were surveyed at rural and regional shows and agricultural events in New South Wales between November 2017 and August 2018. Results: The sun-protective behaviours most frequently reported as always practised were wearing a shirt with a collar (44.8%), wearing a wide-brimmed hat (33.9%), and wearing a long-sleeved shirt (29.6%). Although less than half always practised these behaviours, the majority of farmers ranked these behaviours as very or extremely important: wearing a wide-brimmed hat (89.6%), wearing a shirt with a collar (89.5%), and wearing a long-sleeved shirt (82.3%). Sex (female) and higher level of education was associated with greater sun-protective behaviour. Higher income and health insurance were associated with more positive perceptions of the importance of sun-protective behaviour. Potential skin cancers were detected on 30% of participants who underwent a partial skin check. Conclusion: These results indicate a need for appropriate and targeted primary prevention health education messages to encourage farmers to improve their sun-protection practices and undertake annual skin checks to enable early detection of skin cancers.
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