Kemp, G. and Tapp, A.
Social marketing-based strategy for sun protection interventions.
Bristol Business School, Bristol.
Publisher's URL: http://www.swpho.nhs.uk/
The promotion of sensible sun protection behaviours is constrained by:
- The perception that skin cancer risk in the UK is low. The population is not sensitized to skin cancer as a major health risk in the same way as are Australasian populations
- The lack of central government support for and endorsement or funding of interventions
- Strong normative beliefs, particularly among young people about the social value of suntans and prevailing social norms regarding the attractiveness of suntans and acceptable behaviours modelled among peers
- A lack of integration of messages and behaviours among stakeholder groups (e.g. schools, where there is evidence that policies are inconsistent and, in some schools, children may actually be discouraged from bringing sunscreen to schools).
Additionally, recent media coverage hyping the benefits of Vitamin D as both a preventative and curative element (including cancers) will also impact on the way future interventions are received.
Insights that led to the recommendations that follow are:
- ‘trigger’ moments are very important – sun protection is not something that is of major concern / top of mind in the UK winter, so linking activities to moments when sun protection is high on people’s agendas is important.
- there are two main tasks to be done: first, gaining a general awareness that too much sun is harmful, but understanding this on its own is unlikely to shift behaviour. Second, creating specific propositions that people will accept – these offerings leading to lower risk behaviours in an acceptable way.
In the short term, we recommend immediate implementation of:
- activities that can leverage off the existing SunSmart UK brand
- direct beach and other outdoor lifestyle face-to face-interventions
- highly targeted communications at parents, teachers, young adults and outdoor workers to continue the long term task of building sustained awareness of skin cancer risks and appropriate behaviours. Ideally, this would be best achieved nationally through high profile mass media such as television, however funding for this appears unlikely.
In the longer term, priority in developing and implementing interventions should be given to:
- obtaining government assistance in raising awareness of the link between unwise sun exposure and skin cancer in the UK, and in the South West region in particular
- ensuring integration of messages and actions among stakeholder groups and consistency with national, regional and local initiatives.
- gaining media buy-in and support in promoting sensible sun protection behaviour, clarifying the link between sun exposure and vitamin D (and claims made for the latter)
- addressing overall gaps in the population’s knowledge and awareness of safe sun exposure practices
- focusing specifically tailored interventions on clearly identified segments, drawing on theoretical foundations and knowledge of the very different attitudes and beliefs held by each segment to develop appropriate messages
- raising awareness of the need for early detection and treatment, supported by appropriate infrastructure to facilitate screening and referrals to specialist services where appropriate
- utilising collaborative activity with appropriate organisations such as pharmacies, food retailers and sporting organisations to link with, and leverage off, their activity in this area and to ensur communication themes are consistent with ‘best practice’
- setting benchmark measures ththe development of an on-going tracking prre intervention effectiveness and to enable intervee-tuned as necessary
imary research within each segment to deep insights and to enable programmes to be monitored over time.
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