When it comes to better understanding sun protection behaviour and attitudes among ACT teenagers, the only local, reliable and consistent data (evidence) we have to go on is the Australian Secondary Student’s Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) Survey.
The Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol & Drug (ASSAD) survey commenced in 1984 and has been conducted every three years in the ACT since 1996, and whilst as the name suggests it focuses on drugs and alcohol, other supplementary information is also collected, including sun protection.
The last survey was conducted in 2017, ACT secondary students completed a total of 1491 surveys. For more information on the survey email HealthSurvey@act.gov.au
So, what do we know!
The good news is that since the 1990s we have witnessed:
- a significant and steady decline in the number of female and male students reporting that they like to get a suntan.
- the proportion of males reporting getting sunburnt at least once over the previous summer has decreased significantly.
- the proportion of secondary school students (males and females) reporting that they have ever had a severe sunburn that has blistered has significantly declined.
- all forms of sun protection behaviour, bar wearing sunglasses, have increased since the 90s, with the most common form of sun protection in 2017 still being sunscreen.
- in 2017 the majority of ACT secondary school students recalled having received at least part of an education session in class about skin cancer or protection from the sun during the previous year.
The not so good news is that since the 1990s:
- there has not been a significant change in the number of females reporting getting sunburnt at least once over the previous summer.
- whilst hat wearing behaviour (over summer) may have increased since the 1990s, unfortunately the most popular style of hat to wear in 2017 was still a baseball cap.
- in 2017 still far too many Canberra teenagers (over half) are simply not adopting sun protection behaviour- leaving them vulnerable to UV induced skin damage including the development of skin cancer later in life.