Journal of Occupational Health
Online ISSN : 1348-9585
Print ISSN : 1341-9145
ISSN-L : 1341-9145
Original Articles
Outdoor workers’ perceptions of skin cancer risk and attitudes to sun-protective measures: A qualitative study
Marc RochollMichaela LudewigSwen Malte JohnEva Maria BitzerAnnika Wilke
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2020 Volume 62 Issue 1


Objectives: Since January 2015, squamous cell carcinoma or multiple actinic keratosis of the skin caused by natural ultraviolet irradiation (UVR) is recognized as occupational disease in Germany. Interventions which improve the sun protection behavior of outdoor workers are urgently needed. When developing preventive interventions, the attitudes of target groups need to be taken into consideration. Therefore, outdoor workers’ perceptions and attitudes were investigated.

Methods: Seven guided, problem-centered qualitative interviews with healthy male outdoor workers were conducted. A qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data.

Results: We found an underestimation of the perceived skin cancer risk in the seven outdoor workers and heterogeneous attitudes toward the usage of sun-protective measures. Participants stated that the feasibility of technical sun-protective measures depends on the size of the working area. While using a headgear seemed common, none of the participants stated using additional neck protection. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers were considered problematic. The interviews revealed important requirements for sun-protective clothes, especially in terms of different materials. Although the usage of sunscreen was common, our interviewees seemed to apply it wrongly.

Conclusion: Risk perceptions of outdoor workers and their attitudes toward sun protection measures may influence the factual UV protection behavior in the workplace. Structures to facilitate the implementation of technical and organizational sun-protective measures seem to be necessary. Educational interventions and clear instructions which are tailored to the individual needs and attitudes of outdoor workers are required to improve the UV protection behavior and to avoid common mistakes.

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© 2019 The Authors. Journal of Occupational Health published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of The Japan Society for Occupational Health

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