Faculty of Health PhD researcher Stuart Leske said a disproportionate number of the more than 3,000 Queenslanders diagnosed with a potentially life threatening melanoma each year were men and that autumn and even winter could be the danger seasons for many.
“The cooler weather coincides with the start of football and other sport seasons and this often means males playing those sports spend more time outdoors,” he said.
“Because the sun isn’t as strong people don’t always cover up and adhere to the same sun-smart routine they would over summer.
“It’s also more tempting for many to get stuck into gardening and other outdoor activities which involve extended sun exposure.
“Unfortunately, this can result in some sun-protective behaviours, such as wearing a hat, not being adopted by men who may see these measures as unnecessary.”
Mr Leske said 1,757 Queensland men were likely to be diagnosed with a melanoma in a 12 month period as opposed to 1,250 women. By the age of 85 one in 11 men will likely be diagnosed with a melanoma whereas for women the figure is one in 18.
“While on both counts the figures are too high, men appear to be more susceptible to developing skin cancer,” Mr Leske said.
He said QUT had developed an online program to find out what influenced people’s decisions to be sun safe and men in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas were needed to take part.
“We want to test how useful online materials are for getting people to think about and improve their sun-safety behaviours,” Mr Leske said.
The program involves completing three 15-20 minute online questionnaires over two months.
After the first questionnaire, participants will be randomly allocated to one of three groups to complete one of the following:
•20-25 minute online intervention
•Watch a DVD and read factsheets from Cancer Council Queensland, or
•Do nothing beyond the three questionnaires.
He said earlier studies had found people considered unstylish long-sleeved shirts and hats as well as the texture of sunscreen turn-offs, were influenced by friends’ and peers’ attitudes towards sun protection, and were concerned about not having a tan and didn’t always keep sunscreen handy.
Mr Leske said more research, particularly focused on men, was needed.
He said Queensland had the highest rate of skin cancer in the world with approximately 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed annually.
To participate visit www.sunsafestudy.com.au or contact the project manager, Catherine Cleary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media team leader, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901 email@example.com