First published 29 May 2012
How, when and why people protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays is the subject of a new project by a James Cook University researcher.
Ms Kayla Morris, a PhD Candidate (Psychology) in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, is undertaking a research project titled Life in the tropics: Sun protection and UV exposure, as part of her PhD studies.
Ms Morris said skin cancer was a real risk to residents’ health, particularly in the tropics.
“We live in a climate where the average monthly UV index is high or extreme all year,” she said. “Obviously then, sun protection is high on the agenda in our region. It is important to conduct local research so that we can understand how to reduce the prevalence of skin cancer.”
Ms Morris said examining attitudes toward skin protection would eventually help reduce rates of skin cancer.
“Ultimately, the aim of the project is to understand the behavioural factors that surround sun protection and UV exposure. With greater knowledge we can then work towards decreasing the risk of developing skin cancer in the future.”
Ms Morris said although the weather was cooling down in the region, people still needed to use protection leading up to winter.
“Remember, although the mercury is falling, don’t be fooled; North Queensland’s average UV exposure is still high during June and July. This means that as we approach winter, we all need to be wearing sun protective clothing, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses and seeking shady areas when outdoors.”
This phase of the research project is a simple online survey. Participants are asked to answer questions about their attitudes and behaviours surrounding sun protection and UV exposure.
Ms Morris said the online survey would take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Participants will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a keyboard and mouse. Unfortunately, smart phones and tablet devices are not suitable.
“As it is an online study, participants can access the website and complete the survey any time they like.”
All North Queensland residents were invited to participate, she said.
“We are looking for as many people as we can. Participation is completely voluntary and completely anonymous - at no point do we ask for any identifying information.
“Adults of any age can take part. Participants must be over 18 years old though.”
Ms Morris’s contact details can be found on the online survey: http://research.millisecond.com/anneswinbourne/LifeInTheTropicsSurvey.web
JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175.